France national team manager Didier Deschamps has revealed that he “does not favor” Arsenal star William Saliba. The center-back is widely regarded by many as one of the top players in his position in all of Europe. Since breaking into the north London club’s starting XI, the young Frenchman has become a mainstay in the back line.

Saliba has started every single Premier League match for the league leaders so far this season. The defender is now a vital player for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. With Saliba partnering Gabriel just in front of goalkeeper David Raya, Arsenal currently has the best defensive record in the English top flight. The Gunners have only allowed 24 total goals in 28 league fixtures during the current campaign.

Saliba’s importance in the Arsenal team was on display last season as well. The Gunners were leading the league for much of the campaign with the center-back in the squad. However, the Frenchman suffered a back injury and missed the final 11 matches of the season. Arsenal struggled without the star and ultimately finished second in the standings behind winners Manchester City. The Gunners only won five of these 11 games without Saliba.

French coach claims he has better options in the squad than Arsenal star

Despite his importance for his club, Deschamps has regularly opted for other players in the France national team. Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate, and even Benjamin Pavard have occupied the back line more regularly for the French manager in recent months.

Deschamps was asked about Saliba during a recent press conference. The coach did not hold back his opinions regarding the Arsenal star. “He is having a good season, but he also does things that I don’t like so much,” stated Deschamps.

“For France, he has limited game time, but when he plays, that hasn’t necessarily gone well. The hierarchy doesn’t favor him at the moment, but he is here. Dayot Upamecano has had game time and perhaps William has had less.”

“With certain players, I make sure to persevere, because it can be confidence or little blockages that can shift.”

France thumped by Germany without William Saliba in the team

With Saliba on the bench, France fell 2-0 to Germany on March 23. Upamecano and Pavard were picked by Deschamps as the two starting center-backs. German playmaker Florian Wirtz scored just six seconds into the match, the fastest goal in his team’s history.

Kai Havertz then added the second goal just after the halftime break. Jamal Musiala sliced up the French defense before Havertz put the ball into the net as both Upamecano and Pavard failed to block the shot.

The decision by Deschamps is interesting considering Upamecano and Pavard are now not regular starters for their clubs. The Bayern defender has not started a Bundesliga match since February 18th. Upamecano earned a red card in this particular match, a defeat against Bochum. Pavard, on the other hand, has only managed to start 15 of 23 Serie A matches with Inter Milan so far this season.

With the 2024 Euros approaching, Deschamps will have to make some tough decisions in his team’s back line. FIFA currently ranks France second in the world only behind 2022 World Cup winners Argentina. The French team is entering the upcoming tournament as one of the favorites to lift the trophy.