Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has tested positive for coronavirus, AFP reported on Thursday.
Pogba was omitted from the France squad announced Thursday for next month’s Nations League matches against Sweden and Croatia, coach Didier Deschamps said.
World Cup winner Pogba has been replaced by teenager Eduardo Camavinga, who was called up for the first time alongside Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano.
“Unfortunately he underwent a test yesterday (Wednesday) which was revealed to be positive this morning,” Deschamps said of Pogba’s absence from the group.
United also confirmed the news about the 27-year-old on their website.
“Pogba has been replaced in the squad after testing positive for COVID-19. The midfielder will be unable to add to his 69 caps and 10 goals for his country in the games next month. Everybody at United wishes Paul a speedy recovery ahead of the new season,” the club said.
According to statisticians Opta, Camavinga, at 17 years and nine months, could become the youngest player for France since World War II. He would also be the first player to appear for Les Bleus born in the 2000s.
“He has potential which will lead him to be an integral part of this team sooner or later,” said Deschamps.
Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot was also recalled for the first time in over two years after he refused to go on the standby list for the 2018 World Cup.
“He’s found a very good level again. We can’t go back, I’m not someone who likes to take radical decisions. He remained selectable,” explained Deschamps.
Blaise Matuidi, 33, was overlooked following his recent move to David Beckham’s Inter Miami in Major League Soccer as Deschamps decided to explore some younger options in midfield.
Meanwhile, Anthony Martial is in line for his first France cap since March 2018 after hitting a career-best 23 goals for United last term.
Kylian Mbappe was one of two Paris Saint-Germain players included alongside defender Presnel Kimpembe, both starters in last weekend’s Champions League final defeat by Bayern Munich in Lisbon.
However Paris-born Kingsley Coman, who scored the winning goal for Bayern in their 1-0 victory, will be given an extended rest as well as club team-mates Corentin Tolisso and Benjamin Pavard.
Left-back Lucas Hernandez, used sparingly by Bayern in Portugal, has been called up.
France will travel to Sweden for their opening Nations League game on September 5 before returning home to play Croatia three days later. Their last international was the 2-0 victory over Albania on November 17.
Pogba, who is often at the center of transfer rumours during the off-season, is expected to stay put in Manchester United ahead of the new season. His agent said Sunday that the France midfielder is part of United’s plans, adding that he is currently discussing a contract extension with the Premier League club.
Mino Raiola had told Italian broadcasters Sky Sport that Pogba, 27, “is still at the heart of an important technical project”.
Raiola added that he was discussing “with no stress” the renewal to Pogba’s contract at United, which currently expires next summer.
“Manchester United have never wanted to open negotiations to sell him in these last few years,” he said.
(With AFP inputs)
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton/ENG), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern/GER), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona/ESP), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid/ESP), Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig/GER), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Steven Nzonzi (Rennes), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham/ENG)
Forwards: Houssem Aouar (Lyon), Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona/ESP), Jonathan Ikone (Lille), Anthony Martial (Manchester United/ENG), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)