Deschamps: Thuram called up to France squad on merit
Didier Deschamps says Marcus Thuram deserves to be in the France squad and has earned his maiden call-up on merit rather than because of his father's legendary status. Thuram, the son of iconic defender Lilian, is part of the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Finland and the Nations League double-header against Portugal and Sweden.
The Borussia Monchengladbach attacker has started the season well, scoring three goals and setting up two more in 11 matches, including a brace against Real Madrid. He has been directly involved in 20 Bundesliga goals since joining Gladbach ahead of last season, with only nine players bettering that tally over the same period.
Deschamps talked up Thuram's talents when announcing his squad last week and insists the 23-year-old is ready to step out of the shadow of his dad, who made a record 142 appearances for Les Bleus.
"He likes his dad, I like him as well, but we're talking about Marcus. He's used to all this," Deschamps said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"He's easy going, relaxed and knows most of the players so I don't think there's an emotional problem. That being said, when you're here it can be different. He likes when there's adrenaline, pressure, fans but I don't think it will be a problem. He's here so I count on him. When you're the son of someone, it's always a topic, especially with the French team as it doesn't happen that much."
And while Deschamps wants Thuram to be his own man, he accepts having a one-time world-class player as a father can only be a blessing.
"This is his life, his career. His dad's career is over, we all remember it," he said. "But knowing Lilian, it's going to be an advantage for Marcus - he can get his advice. Most importantly, I told him that if he's here, it's only because of what he did. Being the son of someone is not a criteria to be called, it would be wrong."
"He knows his dad, I know him, but if he's here, it's because I think he deserves it."
Kurt Zouma is another player looking to make an impact on his recall to the side, the Chelsea centre-back being preferred to RB Leipzig's highly-rated Dayot Upamecano. He has helped Chelsea to eight clean sheets in 12 appearances this term and Deschamps will give Zouma a chance to add to his five caps over the next week or so.
"There's competition in every position," Deschamps said. "Kurt has been with us for a while, has been called many times but didn't play that much. If I pick him, it's because I think he's better than others at that position because what he's doing with Chelsea. He had a few injuries in a row, but now he's been very fit for a while."
"He's very calm, so he's here. If you're asking why I picked those four central defenders, I have to choose. We have three games in nine days so obviously everybody will play, including Kurt."