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FRANCE

Aymeric Laporte gets France call-up

The Athletic Bilbao centre-back could close the door on potentially representing Spain by playing in France's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Holland.

Aymeric Laporte gets France call-up

Athletic Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte has been called up to the senior French national team for the first time in his career. France coach Didier Deschamps has named the 22 year-old in his squad to face Bulgaria and Holland in World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the 7th and 10th October.

Laporte to play for France, not Spain

The decision ends the possibility of Laporte playing international football for Spain. Descended from Basque great-grandparents, the Frenchman moved to Spain at the age of 16 to join Athletic’s academy and has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the club since his debut in 2012. He has played for France at junior level and has captained the U21 side but has until now never played for the senior side. Laporte had said that he would consider playing for Spain if he never received the call from France.

Benzema and Valbuena still out in the cold

Aymeric is one of 6 LaLiga players named in the squad, alongside Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Lucas Digne (Barcelona), Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) and Kevin Gameiro (Atlético Madrid).

Two notable absentees from the squad are Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, with Deschamps still unwilling to call them up following their embroilment in a blackmail case last season.