Schneiderlin on stand-by in bloody strong France squad

Matt Stead

Hatem Ben Arfa has missed out on a place in France coach Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad for this summer’s European Championship despite his outstanding form for Nice.

Ben Arfa has arguably had the best season of his career with Nice this term, scoring 17 goals to help his side up to fourth place heading into this weekend’s final round of fixtures, and has been closely linked with a move to Barcelona this summer.

However, the 29-year-old has not done enough to persuade Deschamps to include him in the host nation’s squad for Euro 2016, although he is one of eight players named in reserve along with the likes of Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette.

Also absent is Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, although that was expected. Benzema has not played for his country since being questioned by police in November in connection to an alleged blackmail attempt against France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape reportedly showing Valbuena and his partner.

Lyon forward Valbuena is not in Deschamps’ 23-man squad either, nor is injured Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy or Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho, who is under investigation by UEFA after failing a drugs test last month.

There are 10 players who were plying their trades in the Barclays Premier League this season in the squad, including title-winning Leicester midfielder N’Golo Kante and, West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet.

France play Cameroon on May 30 before tackling Scotland on June 4 in their final friendly before Euro 2016 begins.

Les Bleus, champions in 1984 and 2000, begin their Euro campaign against Romania on June 10 before also facing Albania and Switzerland in the group stages.

France squad for Euro 2016: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Benoit Costil (Rennes); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Lucas Digne (Roma); Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Lassana Diarra (Marseille), N’Golo Kante (Leicester), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle); Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)

Reserve list: Alphonse Areola (Villarreal), Hatem Ben Arfa (Nice), Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla), Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon), Adrien Rabiot (PSG), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Djibril Sidibe (Lille), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon).