Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot “has made a huge mistake” in refusing to be a World Cup standby player, France manager Didier Deschamps said on Wednesday as his squad assembled at their Clairefontaine training centre.
Rabiot was omitted from the main 23-man squad and then emailed Deschamps saying he would not “be able to follow the training programme” laid out for the 11 standbys.
“I can understand his immense disappointment,” said Deschamps, adding that Rabiot “has dropped himself, insisting on being a selector. I dare to hope that decisions like this will help him grow up”.
“At the highest level there is no place for moodiness, one has to be professional in all circumstances.”
Asked if the 23-year-old Rabiot could one day return to the France squad, Deschamps answered: “I never take extreme positions. He’s put himself in the wrong, full stop.”
Before Deschamps spoke, his boss, Noel Le Graet, the president of the French football federation, issued a statement that said Rabiot “has made a bad decision” and “punished and sentenced himself on his own”.
Le Graet assumed the roles of both sympathetic mentor and stern disciplinarian.
Rabiot, Le Graet said, “is a player of high quality and a likeable boy, who has always behaved well in the national squad,” before adding “his disappointment does not allow him to give up and not make himself available for the French team”.
The issue even echoed along France’s corridors of power on Wednesday.
“I think that when one has the honour of being called to wear the tricolour shirt and defend the colours of your country, one answers ‘present’, whatever the role,” said government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace.
Rabiot, who has six France caps, was placed on standby in case one of the first-choice players was hurt before the final deadline for submitting the squad on June 4.
In a change from the policy Deschamps adopted before the last World Cup and before Euro 2016, the standbys are not joining the squad at Clairefontaine. The 11 players are expected to train by themselves and be easy to contact.
Rabiot decided the role was not for him.
A source who had seen his message told AFP on Wednesday that it was short but filled with phrases that read as if they had been written by a lawyer.
When Deschamps announced the squad last Thursday, he prefered Steven N’Zonzi of Sevilla, saying: “Adrien’s performances for the French team are not at all at the same level as with the PSG.”
On Saturday, former France fullback Eric Di Meco said: “Some players eliminated themselves, I’m thinking of Adrien Rabiot, who I like a lot and could see in this squad, but the problem is that he does not want to play holding midfielder, and the last few times that he was in the France squad he was moody. Didier doesn’t want that and suddenly humble N’Zonzi took advantage.”
The sole absentee from the France 23 on Wednesday was central defender Raphael Varane, part of the Real Madrid squad for the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday