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24th Dec 2016

Two of Zinedine Zidane’s picks for French Player of the Year didn’t even make Euro 16 squad

No room for N'Golo Kanté in his top five.

Tom Victor

It has been a big year for French football, with the men’s national team reaching the final of Euro 2016 on home soil and Antoine Griezmann coming third in the Ballon d’Or voting.

Raphaël Varane and Karim Benzema won the Champions League, while N’Golo Kanté earned himself a Premier League winner’s medal with Leicester City and Jérémy Mathieu won La Liga with Barcelona.

French World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane was in charge of Varane and Benzema for their continental success, and he predictably picked both of the Real Madrid players when the time came to name the French Player of the Year.

But Benzema, who missed out on a Euro 2016 place in the aftermath of a sex tape scandal, was not the only man to make the cut despite not featuring in Didier Deschamps’ squad.

Real Madrid CF v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions LeagueDembélé only made his full France debut in September (photo credit: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

According to Marca, teenage forward Ousmane Dembélé also featured in Zidane’s top five, claiming fourth spot in between Griezmann and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Dembélé has been in fine form for Borussia Dortmund, impressing after joining from Rennes in the summer and scoring five goals in his first few months in Germany.

He scored his first Champions League goal in the 8-4 victory over Legia Warsaw, and has also struck four times in the Bundesliga – not to mention his exploits against Manchester United in pre-season.

Of course, there could be an ulterior motive for Zidane naming Dembélé among his players of the year. The teenager is one of the most in-demand young strikers in Europe, and we’re sure Real Madrid would love to add him to their ranks.