According to L’Équipe, AC Milan’s Mike Maignan will be Hugo Lloris’ natural successor as goalkeeper for Les Bleus. But having been injured since autumn, his place in France’s starting line-up may need to wait.
Following a disappointing World Cup final defeat at the hands of Argentina in Qatar last month, the French are eyeing up Euro 2024 for a rapid resurgence on the international stage. Qualification games for the European Championships next summer begin this March but France will be without their seasoned captain, Lloris, who announced his retirement from international football yesterday. With Maignan currently out too, veteran shot-stopper Steve Mandanda looks poised to wear the gloves for the interim.
Maignan has been knocking on the door of Les Bleus for some years now, and had been expected to make the Qatar 2022 squad before sustaining an injury to his left calf during a game for the national team against Austria. His rise accelerated in the 2020/21 season as he helped Lille to the Ligue 1 title. Soon after, he moved to Milan to fill the void left by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who had parted ways with the Rossoneri for greener grass in Paris. But the Italians were quick to forget Donnarumma, as Maignan proved to be a huge success. His robust presence at the back was critical to AC Milan’s first Scudetto win in 11 years.
France will have to wait to capitalise on Maignan’s stellar form. His calf injury in September opens the door for Mandanda, who already has 35 international caps to his name. Formerly of Marseille, Mandanda has four clean sheets in 15 appearances in Ligue 1 this season. Some may argue that in-form Brice Samba of RC Lens, second only to Donnarumma for clean sheets in the league (eight to Donnarumma’s nine, both across 17 apps), should take the reigns in March. Will Deschamps opt for fresh blood or seasoned experience?
GFFN | Brendan Cox