French center-back Raphael Varane, 29, has announced his retirement from international competition. The former Real Madrid defender is the third World Cup champion and runner-up from France to hang up his boots after Hugo Lloris (36) and Steve Mandanda (36) retire from international tournaments (37).
Erik Ten Hag, the head coach of the Dutch national team, is therefore relieved by Varane's decision to discontinue international participation because it means that Manchester United will no longer be his exclusive priority. La Parisien, which broke the news of Varane's retirement from international competition, claims that the Lille-born athlete is suffering from physical and mental decline and wants to spend more time with his family. France will be hoping that these five center backs can carry on Varane's tradition.
5 Mohamed Simakan
Mohamed Simakan has already reached numerous highs in his short career. Dayot Upamecano is departing for Bayern Munich, but RB Leipzig has now hired him from Strasbourg to assist fill the vacuum.
Simakan is a strong and impressive athlete who can play full-back or at the corner of a back three or back four with equal ease. He has been compared to France's 1998 World Cup champion Thuram because of his natural adaptability. If required, he could even play in midfield.
4 Benoit Badiashile
A defensive player named Benoit Badiashile appears to gain Didier Deschamps' trust. Before the international break starts, it is still unclear who Deschamps will select. There are many centre-backs because of the good depth in France, and Badiashile is playing regular for Chelsea, which will boost his chances of getting called up by the coach for the future national team matches.
3 William Saliba
William Saliba, a star for Arsenal, is one of the four players vying to replace Raphael Varane following the international break.
Saliba is a strong option to fill that post after excelling for Arsenal as they rose to the top of the Premier League.
With four clean sheets so far this season, the Gunners hold the best defensive record in the Premier League. This resiliency has been led by Saliba, who has played in each of Arsenal's Premier League games so far this season.
Although the 21-year-old has excelled, there are concerns that he hasn't received enough foreign exposure.
2 Jules Kounde
With Barcelona, Jules Kounde is having a wonderful season. Kounde's future as an international defender is still in doubt despite Deschamps' decision to call him up for the 2022 World Cup because so many other defenders will be eager to prove their worth.
The ex-Sevilla star, though, will be ready to showcase his abilities and will likely be called up. He might end up taking Varane's place.
1 Ibrahima Konate
The first-choice center-back to replace Varane may be Ibrahima Konate, who was given his first call-up for the World Cup 2022 but did not contribute enough for the French team. His future is secured on a global scale. Unfortunately, Konate has missed the most of the games due to injury, and Liverpool is having a challenging season overall.
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