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 By Ian Holyman

Tiemoue Bakayoko: France's midfield options 'aren't better than me'

Craig Burley and Alexis Nunes assess Tiemoue Bakayoko's status with France amid his criticism of the team's midfield options.
Shaka Hislop and Mark Donaldson look at France's new generation of players and who the best natural leader is.

Chelsea's Tiemoue Bakayoko has told Canal+ of his disappointment at not being called up by France this month, saying he is just as good as club teammate N'Golo Kante and his other rivals for a midfield place for Les Bleus.

A summer signing from Monaco, Bakayoko has featured in all but one of Chelsea's Premier League games to date this season, taking advantage of injury to Kante to start eight of them and win over manager Antonio Conte.

With Kante yet to regain full match fitness after his hamstring problem, his absence from the France squad to face Wales and Germany in this month's international break was to be expected.

Bakayoko was, however, a more glaring absence, especially as Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi was handed a first call-up by national team boss Didier Deschamps instead.

While N'Zonzi replaced Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso to make his senior international debut in Friday's 2-0 friendly win over Wales, Bakayoko cut a frustrated figure at home.

Tiemoue Bakayoko (right) has won just one cap for France.

"I think [Adrien] Rabiot, Kante, [Blaise] Matuidi, Tolisso aren't better than me," he said. "I respect the coach's choices and I also respect the players selected. They're talented, they're friends.

"I'm proud they've been called up, I'd like to be with them, but I don't think I'm any less than them.

"I'm disappointed. I believe in this World Cup [next summer], it remains a goal. I'm playing for a big club, I think that can work in my favour."

Bakayoko has just one senior France cap to his name to date.

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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