Rabiot refuses to be among French World Cup reserves

Adrien Rabiot of Paris Saint Germain challenges for the ball with Jessy Deminguet of Caen during their League One soccer match at the Michel d'Ornano stadium in Caen, western France, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

France coach Didier Deschamps says Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot is making a "huge mistake" by asking to be taken off the list of reserve players for the World Cup

PARIS — Adrien Rabiot made a "huge mistake" by asking to be taken off the list of reserve players for the World Cup, France coach Didier Deschamps said Wednesday.

Speaking at France's training camp, Deschamps said Rabiot sent him an email earlier this week letting him know he was not prepared to be a standby player.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was left out of France's 23-man World Cup squad last week and was instead named in a list of players who could be called up in case of injury.

"I was obviously surprised," Deschamps said. "I can understand his immense disappointment but I'm convinced he made a huge mistake. Hopefully it will help him grow up and think. When you play at the highest level, you can't let your emotions take over."

The biggest surprise in Deschamps' list came with the inclusion of Sevilla holding midfielder Steven Nzonzi, who was preferred to Rabiot. When unveiling his list, Deschamps justified his decision to not include Rabiot because of the 23-year-old player's mediocre performance with the national team.

"The France team is above everything," Deschamps said. "I'm surprised because he is a young player, with only a few caps."

Rabiot has made six appearances for France, during which he failed to impress. According to L'Equipe newspaper, he took the decision to write to Deschamps alone and was disappointed not to receive more support from his club after Deschamps omitted him.

Asked if he would consider calling up Rabiot again in the future, Deschamps said he "never took radical stances."

History, however, tends to prove the opposite: Deschamps has not reintegrated Karim Benzema in the France squad since the Real Madrid striker claimed that the national team coach bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France when agreeing to leave him out of the group of players for the 2016 European Championship.

France, the runner-up at Euro 2016, opens its World Cup campaign against Australia on June 16. It meets Peru five days later and closes the group stage against Denmark on June 26.

The players selected by Deschamps for the tournament in Russia arrived Wednesday at Clarefontaine, the national team training center. Raphael Varane, who is set to play the Champions League final with Real Madrid on Saturday, will join his teammates later.

Deschamps gave reassuring news about Ousmane Dembele, who sprained his ankle while playing with Barcelona last weekend.

"I feared the worse but the possibility that it is a serious injury has been removed," Deschamps said, adding that Dembele could be ready for next week's friendly match against Ireland.

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