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Payet jokes Saliba only got France call-up due to injured players - it was Arsenal man or 50-year-old Thuram!

12:34 EAT 08/04/2022
William Saliba France 2022
A man hoping to earn an international recall himself ahead of the World Cup 2022 has been poking fun at his club colleague from Marseille

Dimitri Payet has jokingly taunted Marseille team-mate William Saliba over his recent call-up to the senior France squad, telling the Arsenal loanee that he was only selected due to 14 players being injured and 50-year-old Lilian Thuram being the alternative for Didier Deschamps.

Highly-rated 21-year-old centre-half Saliba was initially left out of the latest Les Bleus camp, but was drafted in for meetings with Ivory Coast and South Africa after Bayern Munich star Benjamin Pavard picked up a knock.

Saliba made his debut off the bench against the Ivorians before playing the full 90 minutes in a 5-0 win over South Africa, but Payet has suggested that he only got the nod because 1998 World Cup winner Thuram has long been retired.

What has been said?

While discussing his own international ambitions, Payet told RMC Sport when it was pointed out to him that club colleague Saliba has been recognised by Deschamps: “Yeah, but that’s because there were 14 injured behind him. At one point it was either him or they were calling Thuram back!”

Will Payet play for France again?

While Saliba is now part of the France fold, Payet is yet to earn a recall.

He has been starring domestically and scored a stunning 25-yard goal in his latest Europa Conference League match, against PAOK.

The former West Ham playmaker does have 38 caps, but the last of those came in 2018 and he is now 35 years of age.

Payet is not about to throw in the towel though, and said: “As long as I can play at international level, it will be in a corner.

“I am selectable. When you see the attacking potential of the Blues, places are expensive.”

France have six UEFA Nations League fixtures this summer – against Denmark, Croatia and Austria – before opening the defence of their World Cup crown on November 22 against the winners of the AFC vs CONMEBOL play-off.

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