France head coach explains decision to exclude Chelsea star from national team

Posted by

Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku may have found the back of the net in a crucial win against Brighton, marking his first goal for the club since January, but his journey back to form hasn’t been easy.

Enduring a series of injuries that kept him sidelined for a significant portion of the Premier League season, Nkunku’s hopes of a Euro 2024 call-up have been dashed by French coach Didier Deschamps.

The 26-year-old forward missed the initial 16 games of Chelsea’s campaign due to a knee injury, which was followed by a struggle to regain match fitness. Just as he started to find his rhythm off the bench, a hamstring injury sidelined him for another nine matches. Despite his recent goal-scoring exploits, Nkunku’s limited playing time didn’t meet Deschamps’ criteria for selection.

Explaining his decision to Equipe de France, Deschamps acknowledged Nkunku’s resilience in overcoming injuries but cited the lack of substantial game time as a decisive factor. “Of course he could’ve been called, but he had a complicated season,” Deschamps stated. “He’s healed, that’s for sure, but he hasn’t yet started a match since his return from injury.”

Nkunku’s exclusion reflects Deschamps’ dilemma of balancing form, fitness, and competition within a talented pool of attacking players. While Nkunku’s potential is evident, Deschamps ultimately opted for players with more consistent playing time and form.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 27: Christopher Nkunku of Chelsea takes a shot whilst under pressure from Chris Richards and Marc Guehi of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on December 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Chelsea stars excluded from France national squad ahead of Euro 2024

Joining Nkunku on the sidelines are his Chelsea teammates Malo Gusto and Axel Disasi. Gusto’s impressive performances at right-back, contributing six assists throughout the season, made his omission a notable surprise. However, Deschamps faced tough choices, prioritizing players with proven consistency and readiness for the international stage.

As Euro 2024 approaches, Deschamps’ squad selection highlights the fierce competition for places within the French national team and the delicate balance between rewarding current form and nurturing emerging talent. For Nkunku and his Chelsea teammates, the disappointment of missing out on the Euros serves as motivation to continue their pursuit of excellence on the domestic stage and beyond.

More Stories Christopher Nkunku Didier Deschamps