The list of the French football team for the Paris Olympics, far from the expected standards

The coach of the French Olympic team, Thierry Henry, in Clairefontaine (Yvelines), June 17, 2024. EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

The “expanded virtual list” unveiled by Thierry Henry on June 3, is now a distant memory. The coach of the French U21 team announced to his players on Thursday, July 4, the official list of 22 Tricolores (18 + 4 reserves) who will compete in the Olympic tournament from July 24. And as the 46-year-old coach had already anticipated, the group is not as prestigious as it could have been. Selected by Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappé will not compete in the Olympic Games, as will Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid) and other senior players of the French A team who had nevertheless expressed their desire to take part in the competition.

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But Thierry Henry’s misadventures are not limited to the cases of French stars. The former international was also forced to make numerous changes between his preliminary list of 25 players communicated at the beginning of June and his final group, due to the selection criteria for the Paris Games.

Clubs have the right to refuse to release their players because the Olympic tournament is not part of the “FIFA dates”, during which the international federation requires them to make their players available to national teams. Commissioned by the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Philippe Diallo, to build “the best possible team” In order to shine at home, Thierry Henry has therefore been refused by several European clubs. “The last time I took this many rejections was in middle school.”joked the technician in June.

Alexandre Lacazette as leader

The surprise absence from this list is Khéphren Thuram. Henry received a call during the day from « future club » from midfield he is expected to join Juventus Turin – which “opposes his participation in the Olympic Games”. “It’s very hard for us” he explained on Wednesday at a press conference. Lilian Thuram’s youngest son is the only one leaving Clairefontaine. The four reserves designated by the coach will continue to train with the group, even during the Olympic tournament.

Read also the interview | Article reserved for our subscribers Philippe Diallo, president of the FFF: “We need a framework, at least European, to force clubs to release players for the Olympics”

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This squad composition headache is now behind him. Thierry Henry will be able to get away from his mobile phone: clubs should no longer contact him to take a player back, as the English club Burnley had been able to do with Maxime Estève a few weeks before. His 22 players will all be present – ​​barring injuries – on July 24, in Marseille, for the first match of the Blues against the United States.

Among them are three players over 23 years old – the maximum threshold allowed. The experienced Alexandre Lacazette (33 years old, Olympique Lyonnais) will be part of the adventure at the forefront of the Blues’ attack, as will Crystal Palace (England) player Jean-Philippe Mateta (27 years old) and FC Seville defender Loïc Badé (24 years old).

Saliba and Tel absent

Present in the pre-list, the young nuggets of Paris Saint-Germain Bradley Barcola and Warren Zaïre-Emery will not be there either. The Parisian club did not want to release its two jewels, for fear that they would get injured after their participation in Euro 2024. Other talented players under 23 years old that Thierry Henry would have liked to count on will also be absent. This is the case of the solid defender of the Blues William Saliba (Arsenal), Mathys Tel (Bayern Munich) or all the Lillois (Lucas Chevalier, Lenny Yoro, Bafodé Diakité).

Despite these many absences, the French group remains competitive. The players will have the opportunity to shine on Thursday, July 4, against Paraguay, in Bayonne (Pyréennées-Atlantiques), for the first friendly match of the Olympic team, “Thierry Henry” era.

  • The full list of 18:

Guardians: Guillaume Restes (Toulouse FC), Nkambadio Obed (Paris FC).

Defenders: Castello Lukeba (RB Leipzig), Kiliann Sildillia (SC Fribourg), Bradley Locko (Stade Brestois), Adrien Truffert (Stade rennais), Loïc Badé (FC Seville) Soungoutou Magassa (AS Monaco).

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Environments : Joris Chotard (Montpellier Hérault), Désiré Doué (Stade Rennes), Enzo Millot (VfB Stuttgart), Manu Koné (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Maghnes Akliouche (AS Monaco).

Attackers: Rayan Cherki (Olympic Lyon), Michael Olise (Crystal Palace), Arnaud Kalimuendo (Stade Rennes), Alexandre Lacazette (Olympic Lyon), Jean-Philippe Mateta (Crystal Palace).

  • The list of 4 reservists:

Theo De Percin (AJ Auxerre), Lesley Ugochukwu (Chelsea FC), Andy Diouf (RC Lens), Chrislain Matsima (AS Monaco)

Mathieu Maine

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