Alessandrini gets France call
Romain Alessandrini is barely halfway through his first season in the French top flight but France boss Didier Deschamps had no hesitation in selecting the Rennes forward for next week's friendly against Germany.
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At the age of 23, Alessandrini is by modern standards a late developer, but Deschamps is confident the former Clermont Foot player is blossoming in Ligue 1.
Now he wants to see how Alessandrini, who joined Rennes last summer, copes with his first call-up to the national team squad.
"His performances for Rennes are of a very high quality," Deschamps said.
"He's a player who makes a difference, who scores goals. He's a left-footer with very good technique.
"He did well with Clermont Foot in Ligue 2 and has an interesting profile.
"It's a chance for him, and shows the door is open to other players who perform well at club level."
Alessandrini has scored nine goals in 19 league appearances this season, and is a deep-lying forward rather than a central striker.
At 5ft 8ins he is not a player who carries a major aerial threat, but his ability with the ball at his feet has charmed Deschamps.
Less of a surprise was the inclusion of teenage Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
Varane has been involved with the squad previously without making his senior debut, and the 19-year-old will hope the opportunity arises next Wednesday at the Stade de France.
Varane scored for Madrid and was man of the match in their 1-1 draw against Barcelona last night in the Copa del Rey.
Deschamps said: "I had already made my list before he played in last night's match against Barca.
"He's becoming a more important player since the start of the year.
"He's a young player and also one for the future."
There was no room in Deschamps' squad for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who joined Newcastle from Montpellier this month.
Deschamps put that down to Yanga-Mbiwa playing little football recently, with the France boss saying the defender was "not in the best condition to play for France".
The squad contains 10 players from the French league and nine based in the English Premier League, including Newcastle's recent signings Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko, plus three from Spain and one, Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, from Germany's Bundesliga.