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PSG’s Kurzawa keeps France place as Payet recalled

Paris Saint-Germain defender Layvin Kurzawa retained his place in the France squad on Thursday for next month's 2018 World Cup qualifiers despite a video of him criticising national coach Didier Deschamps.

Kurzawa was the recent victim of a blackmail plot involving a video of the 25-year-old mocking Deschamps, although the footage has not been made public.

Four men aged between 25 and 30 were arrested and charged with the foiled attempt to blackmail Kurzawa for 200,000 euros ($239,000) during the summer.

The PSG player was filmed on a mobile phone in a shisha bar in Paris with the footage falling into the hands of the gang.

A source disclosed that the video contained footage of Kurzawa making “uncalled for gestures aimed at the France national manager”.

But Deschamps insisted it was a “private matter” as he justified his decision to include the left-back in his 24-man squad.

“I don’t live on this theoretical stuff, I consider this a private matter and, as such, I took the decision to select him,” said Deschamps.

“I don’t want to ask too many questions. I take decisions and I live with them.”

Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet and Tottenham Hotspur’s Moussa Sissoko were both recalled for the October 7 clash away to Bulgaria and home tie with Belarus three days later.

France lead Group A by a point from Sweden going into the final two rounds of matches but were held to an embarrassing 0-0 draw by minnows Luxembourg in Toulouse in their most recent outing.

Deschamps will be without the sidelined trio of Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and Benjamin Mendy as France look to nail down top spot and clinch automatic qualification for next year’s tournament in Russia.

France squad

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (Paris SG), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)

Defenders: Lucas Digne (Barcelona/ESP), Christophe Jallet (Nice), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris SG), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Layvin Kurzawa (Paris SG), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/ESP), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid/ESP)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/ITA), Adrien Rabiot (Paris SG), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham/ENG), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/GER)

Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal/ENG), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal/ENG), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris SG), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

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