Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has been rewarded for his upturn in form with a recall to the France squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The 24-year-old hasn’t featured for Les Bleus since the summer of 2019 but now has the chance to add to his six international caps in matches against Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Other notable returnees include Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Lemar, who hasn’t featured since November 2019, while Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, a member of their 2018 World Cup-winning squad, is back for the first time in two-and-a-half years.
This represents Ndombele’s first international call up since his club-record €60 million (£54m/$68m) move from Lyon to Tottenham.
The Frenchman arrived in north London with a reputation as an all-action midfielder but struggled to adapt to the demands of English football during his first season in the Premier League, with manager Jose Mourinho publicly questioning Ndombele’s fitness levels at one stage.
However, the player knuckled down and has been rewarded with a much improved 2020-21 campaign, with his displays now also catching the eye of his international manager.
Speaking at a news conference announcing the squad, boss Didier Deschamps said Ndombele, Lemar and Dembele deserved their recalls after a string of impressive recent performances.
“Thomas, for several weeks now, he has been more consistent,” he said. “His performance level is a lot better, just like Tanguy. Tanguy’s performances are coming close to the ones he showed at Lyon.”
On Dembele, Deschamps added: “For several weeks, he has been playing consistently and he has regained his athletic abilities.
“He is playing and scoring goals, even if he could score more. He was greatly hampered by repeated injuries. He is gradually gaining in maturity.
“What he is able to do today he has been able to do for several years, which is why he was part of the squad of world champions.”
Manchester United forward Anthony Martial is also named in the squad despite currently being sidelined with a groin injury along with team-mate Paul Pogba, who has only just returned to training after missing six weeks with a thigh problem.
Alphonse Areola, Hugo Lloris, Kurt Zouma, N’Golo Kante, Moussa Sissoko and Olivier Giroud are also included in an expanded 26-man squad.
However, there is no place for the likes of Steven N’Zonzi, Marcus Thuram, Corentin Tolisso and Theo Hernandez.
France squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Fulham, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Lille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)