The World Cup in Qatar, where the Blues failed in the final against Argentina, definitely marks the end of a cycle.
The multiple injuries before and during the competition even forced Didier Deschamps and his staff to speed up the process.
The announcements in quick succession of the international retirements of Hugo Lloris, titular goalkeeper and captain of the Blues, last week, and of his eternal understudy Steve Mandanda, manager of the France group, confirm a little more the end of an era and the beginning of another.
Indeed, according to information from L'Equipe that we are able to confirm, Steve Mandanda, French international since 2008, should announce this Saturday that he is ending his (very) long international career.
The World Cup in Qatar, in which he participated somewhat miraculously, taking advantage of Mike Maignan's package, will therefore have been the last adventure of the one who, at 37 years and six months, became the oldest French international to participate in a World Cup.
Little present on the field with the Blues - he only played his second match in a major Blues competition against Tunisia (0-1) in Doha -, the world champion in 2018, vice-champion of the world in 2022, was one of the most listened to voices in the locker room and a valuable relay for Didier Deschamps with the group.
"Steve, it's like he's wearing a bulletproof vest, nothing gets to him"
It took at least that to explain such longevity in this group: Steve Mandanda in Blues is fourteen years, of joys and hard knocks (
which deprived him of the Brazilian World Cup in 2014
), 160 match sheets , for 35 selections.
“There is an incredible thing about Steve, it is that he recovers from everything, all the time, confided to the Parisian / Today in France Perfect, one of his brothers, a few months ago to explain the stainless side of the Rennes goalkeeper.
If he is still present at this level at 37, it is in particular thanks to his mental strength.
Read alsoBefore Tunisia-France, the Mandanda siblings tell Steve, the stainless goalkeeper of the Blues
“When he started in the France team, he had to digest losing his place as number 1, continued Parfait.
From the outside, you don't suspect how violent it can be sometimes.
But Steve, it's like he's wearing a bulletproof vest, nothing gets to him.
In difficult times, he withdraws a little, asks himself a lot of questions to improve.
But he manages.
It is the only one, with Lloris and Benzema, to last as long.
It proves his strength of character.
The withdrawal of a player of this caliber, who rubbed shoulders with the Thuram father and son with the rooster's flocked jersey - proof if one needed one more of his formidable longevity - necessarily raises questions around Hugo Lloris' successor.
Who will don the number 1 costume for the first Euro qualifiers in March?
Mike Maignan chaining injuries, the former OM goalkeeper would have been the perfect choice.
In his absence "DD" will he bet on Alphonse Areola or will he take advantage of it to launch a youngster like the Nantes player Alban Lafont?
You will have to decide quickly.
The France team will face the Netherlands on March 24, then Ireland on March 27.