The World Cup in Qatar is finally set to get underway, but there are a number of major players who will be watching along with the fans back home.

An unfortunate reality about the tournament is there will always be significant absences, either through a nation's failure to qualify or due to injury.

It is the latter that has been a major focus in the final week before Sunday's kick-off, with Senegal star Sadio Mane and France striker Karim Benzema both being late withdrawals from their respective squads, the latter suffering a quadriceps injury on Saturday, depriving the tournament of the 2022 Ballon d'Or winner.

Benzema's injury is just one of several significant blows for holders France, and they dominate Stats Perform's injured XI of the players unable to feature in Qatar.

Goalkeeper: Mike Maignan (France)

Maignan had a fine maiden season at Milan after joining from Lille. He kept 17 clean sheets in Serie A last term, the highest tally in the league, and conceded just 21 goals, with his save percentage of 79.4 the best of any Serie A goalkeeper to play more than 10 games in the competition.

He has made seven appearances this season, but the 27-year-old suffered a calf injury in October, leaving Didier Deschamps shorn of a quality shot-stopper to challenge Hugo Lloris.

 

Defence: Ben Chilwell (England), Reece James (England), Presnel Kimpembe (France)

Chelsea duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell were by no means guaranteed to start for England, but it's still a blow to Gareth Southgate not to have the pair available.

James has excelled at wing-back and would have been an ideal fit if England stick with a three-man defence, while he could also have slotted in at centre-back, and Chilwell would likely offer more attacking threat than Luke Shaw on the left should the Three Lions have needed to chase a game.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe helped France win the 2018 World Cup, but he had to withdraw from Deschamps' squad for Qatar due to an Achilles problem.

Midfield: N'Golo Kante (France), Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina), Paul Pogba (France), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)

Giovani Lo Celso was not always a key player for Tottenham but retained his place as a crucial cog for Argentina. La Albiceleste will be without the midfielder, who sustained a hamstring injury while playing for Villarreal against Athletic Bilbao late in October.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored three goals in four games for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, but shortly after joining Roma on loan from PSG, the former Liverpool midfielder suffered a fractured tibia and had no chance of recovering in time to make Louis van Gaal's squad.

Another two France stars complete the midfield, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante missing for Les Bleus. Both players were exceptional in 2018, but Kante is out with a hamstring problem, while Pogba is yet to make an appearance for Juventus this season after joining from Manchester United.

 

Attack: Karim Benzema (France), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Christopher Nkunku (France)

It's fair to say France have been hit hardest by injuries to big players, and there could arguably be none bigger than Benzema, the Ballon d'Or holder. Given he is 34, it could well have been the Real Madrid striker's final shot at a World Cup and is a huge blow not only to France but to football fans around the world who were highly anticipating the Benzema-Kylian Mbappe link-up.

A player who might have softened the blow of Benzema's injury was Christopher Nkunku, had he not already been ruled out himself with a knee issue sustained in training last week, just before Les Bleus left for Qatar. Nkunku has been in sensational form for RB Leipzig, with only Mbappe of players from Europe's top five leagues having scored more goals (58) since the start of last season than the RB Leipzig star, who has amassed 52 in 75 games.

Mane, meanwhile, was carrying the hopes of Senegal on his shoulders. The Africa Cup of Nations holders have a talented squad, but Mane was the stardust. He went down with an injury to his fibula while in action for Bayern Munich just before the World Cup break, and though Senegal named the ex-Liverpool attacker in their squad, he underwent surgery earlier this week and was duly ruled out.

 

Adrien Rabiot hopes an impressive World Cup campaign with France will help him win a contract at Juventus or elsewhere ahead of his deal with the Bianconeri expiring next year.

Having been left out of Didier Deschamps' squad when France won their second World Cup in 2018, Rabiot could make his debut at the tournament in Tuesday's Group D opener against Australia.

With his Juventus contract set to expire at the end of this season, Rabiot was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in the last transfer window.

The midfielder is likely to feature regularly in Qatar after Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante were ruled out of the tournament, and he hopes to impress Juventus – or any potential suitors – with his displays.

"It excites me to be here and probably a starter. I prefer to be in this position of 2022 rather than four years ago," Rabiot said on Friday.

"It's a chance to be there in the shoes of a starter for a such a competition. I don't know if it's a turning point, but it can help me. 

"Contractually, I'm in my last year at Juve. It can help me for the future."

The absence of Pogba, who scored in France's 2018 World Cup final victory over Croatia, represents a severe blow to Les Bleus' hopes of becoming the first team to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962.

Rabiot says his Bianconeri team-mate has told him to assume a similar leadership role with his country to that which he occupies in Turin.

"We see each other every day. We talked a lot about the competition," Rabiot added. "Did he give me some advice? Not necessarily. 

"He encouraged us and said that he would follow us. He asked me to pull this team and this environment as I do at Juve."

Olivier Giroud highlighted the importance of replacing Paul Pogba's influence on the France squad ahead of their bid to defend the World Cup.

Having lifted their second World Cup in 2018, France are considered one of the main contenders to emerge victorious in Qatar, though injuries to Pogba and other key players could harm their chances.

Pogba has not made a single competitive appearance since returning to Juventus in July, and was ruled out of the tournament after undergoing delayed surgery on a knee injury.

The midfielder, who scored in the World Cup final against Croatia four years ago, will be joined on the sidelines by N'Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku, and Giroud believes it is time for other players to assume senior roles.

"We will miss Paul Pogba a lot, like Kante and Kimpembe," Giroud said on Thursday. 

"Paul takes up a lot of space in this France team with his personality, but I am convinced that there are other young leaders who can emerge.

"I too will play my role of big brother for the youngest, be available for them, and speak up when necessary."

With 49 goals in 114 international appearances, Giroud is second in France's all-time goalscoring charts behind Thierry Henry (51), and is also his country's fifth-most capped player.

Giroud arrives at his third World Cup in fine form after scoring nine times for Milan this season, and will delay any decision regarding his international future until after the tournament.

"I feel good physically, in my game, in my club and in the France team. It's a period of splendour for me. It's a gift to feel like this at 36," Giroud said.

"I don't set myself any limits, it could be my last competition, but I don't want to announce anything. We'll see after the World Cup. My motivation to stay at the highest level is intact."

France fell short of expectations when they suffered a last-16 exit at Euro 2020 last year, and Giroud believes it would be wrong to consider them favourites to triumph in Qatar. 

"It's a childhood dream, when you have the chance to participate, you want to go to the end. I was lucky that it came true in 2018," Giroud added.

"Having the opportunity to play a third World Cup with this young, talented group gives us a lot of hope. We have a lot of hope but also humility, we do not make ourselves favourites. 

"We know that there are very big teams in this World Cup. I have a lot of confidence in this group."

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Paul Pogba have been confirmed to appear in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as part of a future update.

The trio of footballers were teased by developers Activision to be "suiting up" for appearances for Modern Warfare II, Warzone 2.0 and Call of Duty Mobile – displaying some teaser art in a social media post.

Characters for Pogba and Neymar have already been leaked on social media by dataminers, though Messi's look is yet to be shown. It is expected their introduction will coincide with the World Cup in Qatar.

Neymar and Messi are no strangers to the world of video games, with the Paris Saint-Germain duo introduced to PUBG earlier this year, while Neymar was featured in Fortnite back in 2021.

Modern Warfare II was officially released on October 28 and quickly broke records for the fastest start for the franchise in terms of revenue, with a further boost expected later this month when Warzone 2.0 is released.

Messi and Neymar will star for Argentina and Brazil respectively in the World Cup in Qatar, though France will be without Pogba due to injury.

Massimiliano Allegri says there is no point in dwelling on the absence of Paul Pogba after the Juventus midfielder was ruled out of the World Cup.

It was announced on Monday that Pogba will play no part in France's bid to retain their title in Qatar due to a knee injury.

Pogba has not played a competitive game for Juve since returning to the Serie A club as a free agent in July after his Manchester United contract expired.

The 29-year-old underwent surgery last month and although he recently returned to training, he must now undergo further rehabilitation.

Bianconeri head coach Allegri says Pogba has been sorely missed, but felt it had looked increasingly unlikely he could play in the World Cup.

He said: "It is useless to repeat what has already been said: once the decision was made not to have an operation at the beginning of the season, it was normal for the hopes that he could return with Juventus and France. They were reduced to a flicker.

"He is sorry for Juventus and the World Cup, it is normal, we have been penalised for not having him available."

Juve will also be without Weston McKennie and Dusan Vlahovic when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday due to injury.

Allegri revealed he is hopeful striker Vlahovic will return against Inter on Sunday, with Angel Di Maria and Gleison Bremer also set to be back for that Serie A match

The Turin giants will attempt to secure a Europa League spot when they face Group G leaders PSG at Allianz Stadium, while fourth-placed Maccabi Haifa are also in the hunt for third place when they take on Benfica. 

Allegri expects his players to use the anger of being knocked out of the Champions League to drive them up the Serie A table.

He said: "I'm angry, not comparing with the best from March onwards creates anger. It has to give us incentives, it has to create a reaction, but we think about the championship after the matches with Inter, Verona and Lazio.

"It is normal that the matches in the Champions League, as results, they are very bad and this shows the results in the league in a more negative way. But we will think about the championship from the day after tomorrow."

Paul Pogba will miss France's World Cup campaign, the Juventus midfielder's agent has confirmed.

The 29-year-old, who was a member of Didier Deschamps' triumphant squad at Russia 2018, had been expected to figure once more for Les Bleus if fit.

But having returned to Turin from Manchester United during the close season, Pogba has struggled with a knee injury, with delayed surgery keeping him stuck on the sidelines.

Now, the player's agent Rafaela Pimenta says he will not return to either domestic duty with Juventus, nor make the plane to Qatar with France, in what is one of the biggest injury blows ahead of the tournament.

"Following yesterday and today's medical review in Torino and Pittsburgh, it is extremely painful to [say] Paul Pogba will still need recovery time from his surgery," Pimenta told Telefoot on Monday.

"For this reason, Paul will not be able to join [the] Juventus squad before the World Cup break, nor the French national team in Qatar. If wishful thinking would change things, Paul would be playing tomorrow.

"But what changes things are hard work, resilience and discipline, all of which are the only things in Paul's mind [during] these challenging times.

"Paul will continue working [and] giving his very best to be back on the pitch for the fans and his team as soon as possible."

Less than three weeks out from the World Cup, Juventus also provided an update on the fitness of injured United States midfielder Weston McKennie.

"Weston McKennie underwent radiological examinations at J|Medical which showed muscular overload in the rectus femoris of the right thigh," the statement read. "His condition will be evaluated daily."

France begin their World Cup defence against Australia on November 22, before facing Denmark and Tunisia in their other two Group D matches.

Raphael Varane indicated he is on course to be fit for France's World Cup campaign as the Manchester United defender recovers from a leg injury.

Centre-back Varane is not expected to play any club football until the Qatar 2022 tournament gets under way, having been substituted in pain during United's October 22 draw at Chelsea.

He jarred his leg badly just before the hour mark at Stamford Bridge, casting doubt on whether he would be able to play any part in the finals for France boss Didier Deschamps, as Les Bleus defend their title.

News on the 29-year-old's recovery is positive though, with the 87-cap international posting pictures and a video on Sunday of him training at the France team's Clairefontaine headquarters.

He wrote in English: "Thank you everyone for the kind messages this week. I have been working! Feeling good."

His French language message said he had "been working hard and I feel a lot better", which is an update that will be welcomed by Deschamps.

The directive from Deschamps is that only fully fit players will go with France to Qatar, with a major question mark also hanging over Paul Pogba's readiness, given he has been sidelined for Juventus since July with a knee injury.

Deschamps said in a recent interview with French website Brut: "Leaving for a big competition with players who are not ready, already it occupies too much attention, and for those who have to play, it also monopolises the medical staff. I consider that we must leave with valid and capable players."

France start their World Cup campaign against Australia on November 22.

In his message on Sunday, Varane also wished United well for their Premier League game against West Ham, saying: "Good luck today boys."

Didier Deschamps wants Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba to prove they can contribute at Qatar 2022 after announcing he will not be taking any injured players to the World Cup.

The France boss said everyone who travels to the finals, where Les Bleus will be defending the title they won in Russia, must be able to contribute immediately.

Manchester United centre-back Varane is not expected to play any club football until the Qatar 2022 finals get under way, after suffering a leg injury, while Pogba is back in training with Juventus after knee surgery but will not be rushed back to action.

"It's absolutely clear," Deschamps said in an interview with French website Brut. "I've never embarked on a big competition with an injured player, even if there are some who can come up with examples from 2018 with our full-backs who were Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe.

"They were healed. After that, it's about athletic condition. And between the time I made the list and what should have happened, that didn't happen… there you go.

"But leaving for a big competition with players who are not ready, already it occupies too much attention, and for those who have to play, it also monopolises the medical staff. I consider that we must leave with valid and capable players."

Pogba is still waiting to make an impact on the pitch in his second spell at Juventus, having rejoined the Serie A giants from Manchester United.

There is a strong will from Deschamps for the midfielder to be on the plane to Qatar, and Pogba may well return to club action in the coming weeks.

The coach has plenty of sympathy for the 29-year-old who has had a tough time away from football lately.

An investigation was opened in August into allegations Pogba was the target of an extortion plot by his brother Mathias and childhood friends demanding a €13million sum.

Mathias Pogba and four others were charged in relation to the matter and Deschamps regards Paul Pogba as "a victim".

"That it's been a very difficult moment for him, yes," Deschamps said.

"I talk to him regularly. He's someone who has a big mentality. Obviously, relating to his injury, it's not easy to manage. But psychologically, he's fine."

Massimiliano Allegri ruled out Paul Pogba from his Juventus plans for Friday's clash with Empoli, saying it would be "pure madness" to rush the midfielder's recovery.

Juventus have been unable to field Pogba or Federico Chiesa this season, with the France midfielder undergoing knee surgery last month and Italy forward Chiesa suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January.

Pogba was initially a doubt for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, although France coach Didier Deschamps was upbeat regarding his recovery earlier this week.

Speaking at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, Deschamps said: "His programme is going well. The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing."

Despite both Pogba and Chiesa being pictured in team training recently, head coach Allegri said Juventus must treat their returns with caution.

"Let's see the real things, the reality today is that Chiesa and Pogba don't have them," Allegri told a pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"Chiesa did two training sessions with the team, Pogba trained temporarily, but very partially with the team. Avoid writing all that stuff there, you have a fantasy.

"Players have not even trained with the team [and you] write that after two days they are available. Fantasy is a power and it is very beautiful. Tomorrow they will not be there.

"I, too, would like everyone available, especially to make changes. With those we have, we will have a great match tomorrow, and we will prepare well for Benfica.

"Chiesa has already made progress. On Saturday morning there will be a friendly for Federico, to see how he moves on the whole field.

"Paul has done some partial work with the team, but we are on Thursday and until Tuesday there are four days. Damaging his work is pure madness."

After their meeting with Empoli, Juventus will have just three days to recover ahead of the decisive Champions League clash with Benfica, but Allegri would not be drawn on whether striker Dusan Vlahovic would be rested on Friday.

"Dusan, regardless of his goal, played one of the best games on a technical level [against Torino last week]," Allegri said.

"[Moise] Kean also did well, I'm happy with Moise because he's growing, he's physically better, and he makes himself available for the team above all.

"To obtain results, everyone must be available, and there seem to be good signs of this. Tomorrow will not be easy; among other things, they beat us last year."

Vlahovic has scored three goals in three Serie A appearances against Empoli, including his first league double for Juventus in February. The Serbian has also hit the net five times in five home league games this season.

Paul Pogba returned to training with Juventus on Tuesday just over a month before France's first World Cup game.

The midfielder's second spell with Juve got off to a nightmare start when he suffered a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

That injury blow has prevented Pogba from making a competitive appearance for the Bianconeri following his Manchester United exit.

Pogba was back training with his Juve team-mates on Tuesday, however, with the club revealing he worked "partially" with the squad as he was pictured in action.

That is good news for both the Serie A giants and France five weeks before the holders start their defence of the World Cup against Australia in Qatar.

Confirmation of Pogba's return came after Les Bleus head coach Didier Deschamps stated he would need to be sure the 29-year-old is fully fit before naming him in his squad.

Speaking after attending Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Deschamps told Sport Mediaset: "His programme is going well. The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing.

"Then there will be the question of whether he looks athletic, since he hasn't played for a long time. 

"But I repeat, before thinking about whether I call him up, he must be healed."

Didier Deschamps is optimistic Paul Pogba will be fit to feature at the World Cup next month, amid reports the midfielder is set to return to training with Juventus.

Pogba has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Bianconeri since returning from Manchester United in July, and is a doubt for the tournament in Qatar after undergoing surgery to solve a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

The 2018 World Cup winner initially opted to treat the injury with conservative therapy, which his doctor Roberto Rossi subsequently said had worsened his condition. 

On Tuesday, with little over a month to go before France's Group D opener against Australia, Italian media reports suggested Pogba's return to Juventus training was imminent. 

Speaking after attending Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Deschamps told Sport Mediaset he was upbeat concerning the midfielder's progress, saying: "His programme is going well. 

"The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing.

"Then there will be the question whether he looks athletic, since he hasn't played for a long time. 

"But I repeat, before thinking about whether I call him up, he must be healed."

Pogba has won 91 caps and hit 11 goals for France since making his international debut in 2013, and scored Les Bleus' third goal in their 4-2 win over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final.

Meanwhile, Deschamps saw another of his France stars crowned the best player in the world on Monday, as Karim Benzema won the Ballon d'Or for the first time in his career.

Asked about Benzema's triumph, Deschamps added: "He deserves it. It is an important thing for all of French football, that of the national team and the clubs."

Aurelien Tchouameni has dismissed talk of him being the new Paul Pogba and explained why he turned down Paris Saint-Germain to join Real Madrid.

Tchouameni has emerged as another big French talent, prompting Madrid to lure him to Santiago Bernabeu from Monaco for a fee of €80million that could rise to €100m in June.

PSG are among the top European clubs who were also eager to land the midfielder, but he had already agreed to sign for the European champions.

Tchouameni has been likened to France team-mate Pogba, but the 22-year-old does not want to hear those comparisons after making a name for himself.

He told Telefoot: "I am not the new Pogba, I am Aurelien Tchouameni, I try to write my own story. Pogba is a player I followed a lot when he was little and whom I follow a lot. We play in the same position, but there is only one Pogba."

Tchouameni revealed he had no intention of staying in his homeland with PSG after giving Madrid his word that he would move to the Spanish capital.

He added: "No, no, I didn't hesitate with PSG. It is also a very big European club, but I had already decided to play for Real Madrid."

Tchouameni has fierce competition for a place in the Madrid midfield and knows he must grasp his opportunities.

"No matter the price of the transfer, at this club there is always pressure," he said. "But I'm trying to live up to expectations, to do what I can do on the pitch and so far it's going quite well.

"It was not me who was in the office to give the numbers of my signing. So whether it's 80 [million Euros], 60, 40... in the end, when you arrive in Madrid and you're a starter, you always have to perform."

Pogba hopes he will be a starter when Les Bleus attempt to retain the World Cup in Qatar.

He said: "I try to contribute to the team, then if [N'Golo] Kante and Pogba return, the coach will be the one I choose and I will always do my best to be the starter.

"I think about the World Cup every day. I'll try to win points with Real Madrid and then we'll wait for the list."

Paul Pogba has expressed his desire to emulate Juventus legends upon his return to the club, following a six-year stint with Manchester United.

The French World Cup winner returned to Turin ahead of the 2022-23 season but is yet to feature in his second spell at the club due to injury.

Pogba has hopes of becoming a club legend like Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Georgio Chiellini, who he played with in his previous stint with Juventus.

He also conceded the final half of his spell with United was not up to scratch and believes the stars aligned to present him and Juve with a fresh challenge together once again.

"I like to think and say that it is my heart that made the choice. It was also perhaps the right time to come back here. The last three years in Manchester, affected by injuries, did not go as I wanted," he told GQ Italia.

"Add this to the fact that Juve have come from two years in which they did not win the Scudetto, it was a good challenge for both of us. Maybe it was the right time to meet again, try to take back the place we deserve, and above all get back to winning.

"I always want to play and I want to give my best. I know that this shirt is special, it brings out my best. We have built a good story, which I never forgot even when I left Juve. I never had any doubt that this was my place.

"The first time here I was younger, I did not have the experience I have now. I grew up in my personal life, I have two children, a wife, and also as a footballer. I won the World Cup with France, the Europa League with United, I played with great players and a great team.

Juventus may soon be forced to "change the management" if Massimiliano Allegri cannot inspire a rapid improvement in their fortunes, according to former Bianconeri midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

The Italian giants have endured a tough start to the season, winning only two of their first seven games in Serie A and losing their opening two Champions League group-stage matches for the first time.

And Sissoko – a Juventus player between 2007 and 2011 – feels the club may have to dismiss Allegri if they cannot beat Bologna at home on Sunday in their first match after the international break.

"There's a big problem there. It's true, the start was very bad," Sissoko told Stats Perform.

"We will see what happens after the international break because I think it's going to be a big moment if the team don't win."

Allegri is in his second stint with the club having presided over a hugely successful tenure between 2014 and 2019, winning five straight Scudetti and reaching two Champions League finals.

However, his second reign has been underwhelming. A fourth-place finish last season followed by a slow start this term has led to many fans calling for the Italian coach to be sacked.

And Sissoko believes this feeling around the club is not beneficial for the players, saying: "When you work in this atmosphere it is not easy for players.

"If the result don't come, I think it's better to change, to have fresh management, new people and new things."

Juventus fans will be hoping star signings Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba can help Juventus climb the table.

Di Maria, signed from PSG in pre-season, has scored once in his first four league games while Pogba is yet to play because of a torn meniscus.

But Sissoko still believes the two signings will be a key part of Juventus' campaign.

"The team need to work a lot – it's a team performance, but if you put more quality in this team, like Pogba, like Di Maria, 100 per cent it's not the same team," he added.

Pogba has also had to contend with off-field controversy in recent months.

His brother, Mathias, has been charged in connection with an alleged armed extortion attempt against the World Cup winner.

Asked how this might affect Pogba’s performances for Juventus when he returns from injury, Sissoko said: "To be honest, it's not easy.

"I think Pogba has the good mentality to support all these things. I think he's going to fix all these things with him and his family to come back to play football and to give a lot of things to the supporters and for himself also."

Raphael Varane confirmed players in the France camp are concerned after Paul Pogba's brother was charged and detained over an alleged extortion attempt against the midfielder.

Pogba is absent from the France squad at present due to injury, and his chances of playing at the World Cup hang in the balance.

However, it has been off-field matters that have grabbed the attention recently regarding the Juventus player.

An investigation was opened in August into allegations Pogba was the target of an extortion plot by brother Mathias and childhood friends demanding a €13million sum.

Mathias, who is a free agent after a spell with French fourth-tier side Belfort came to an end in April, threatened to share "explosive revelations" in a video posted on social media.

The 32-year-old has denied taking part in extortion attempts against his brother, but he and four others were recently charged in relation to the matter.

New videos from Mathias Pogba were released on Friday, making various claims that were not substantiated, with the story remaining high on the news agenda in France.

Asked whether the France players are talking about the Pogba issue, Varane said: "Unfortunately there is lots of non-sporting news at the moment. We try to be focused on the pitch.

"As a player, that is what must take precedence, but we are not insensitive to what is happening around us. Especially when it involves someone you know. We also feel concerned in a certain way.

"Internally, we're going very well. We are focused on our objective, and we try to be as professional as possible."

Varane and Pogba were club-mates at Manchester United last season, before Pogba moved on at the end of his Old Trafford contract to embark on a second spell at Juventus.

France head coach Didier Deschamps said he would not be distracted by external events, as he prepares his team to face Denmark on Sunday in the Nations League.

"There is nothing and no one to disturb my tranquillity," Deschamps said. "If there are fewer non-sporting debates, it is better."

Varane is set to face United team-mate Christian Eriksen in Copenhagen, and he continues to be impressed by how the former Tottenham and Inter playmaker has returned to football following the cardiac arrest he suffered at last year's European Championship.

Acquired from Brentford in the off-season, Eriksen has quickly become a key figure at United, and defender Varane said: "He managed to integrate quickly into the squad.

"He has a lot of qualities. We are very happy to see him playing at this level after what he has been through. He's a player that I appreciate."

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