Football

Olivier Giroud left out of the France squad

Olivier Giroud says his decision to leave Chelsea for AC Milan was an "obvious choice", with the French striker admitting that life at Stamford Bridge had become "too difficult".

France have again left out striker Olivier Giroud as coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday named his squad for next month’s Nations League Final Four tournament in Italy.

The 35-year-old Giroud, France’s second-top all-time scorer, has had more playing time since joining AC Milan from Chelsea but was not included in the squad for the second consecutive time after missing the World Cup qualifiers earlier this month.

However, Les Bleus, who face Belgium in the semi-finals next Thursday at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, welcome back defenders Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, who feature with their Bayern Munich teammate Dayot Upamecano.

Guendouzi joined Marseille on loan from Arsenal earlier this summer and has been praised for his brilliant performances in Ligue 1 so far this season.

But the hot-headed Frenchman is beginning to grate on some after he confronted team-mate Gerson on the pitch during their 3-2 defeat by Lens at the weekend.

According to French news outlet L’Equipe, Guendouzi approached his team-mate and asked ‘when are you going to start running’, which has angered a number of other Marseille players in the dressing room.

And while Guendouzi’s fiery passion is accepted on the south coast of France, other Marseille players have reportedly grown tired of the midfielder’s actions and criticisms during training.

Keeper Steve Mandanda was omitted after losing his spot in the starting lineup at Marseille, with Benoit Costil coming in.

Hosts Italy face Spain in the other semi-final on Wednesday.

FRANCE’S 23-MAN SQUAD IN FULL

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Benoit Costil (Girondins de Bordeaux)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Olympique Lyonnais), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St Germain), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United)

Midfielders: Matteo Guendouzi (Olympique de Marseille), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco), Jordan Veretout (Roma)

Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain)

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