France coach Deschamps given 2-year contract extension
PARIS (AP) — France coach Didier Deschamps was given a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, keeping him with the national team through the 2020 European Championship.
Deschamps took over from Laurent Blanc after Euro 2012. He guided the team to the quarterfinals of the World Cup two years later, losing to eventual champion Germany. France then reached the Euro 2016 final — losing to Portugal 1-0 — and qualified for next year’s World Cup as Group A winner.
“We ate together last week and discussed the possibility of working together for another two years. The decision was taken after a further discussion this morning,” French soccer federation president Noel Le Graet said. “It’s not a question of finance, but of mutual trust. Money wasn’t talked about. A lot of the top clubs in Europe would offer him more.”
Le Graet, who has set France the target of reaching the World Cup semifinals next year, said Deschamps will carry on regardless of the outcome in Russia.
“I don’t want to start again with someone new just after the World Cup. He knows the team better than anyone,” Le Graet said. “France is improving under Didier. I want to give him the chance to compete in another World Cup and Euro. For me Didier is the best. He takes total responsibility for this team and does so very well.”
Le Graet said the federation’s executive committee “unanimously” supported the decision to extend Deschamps’ contract.
The 49-year-old Deschamps has freshened up the France squad, particularly since Euro 2016, with young players like 18-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe and 20-year-old winger Ousmane Dembele pushing for starting places.
“Didier is one of the few coaches to select lads who are 19 or 20,” Le Graet said. “When you see the quality of our players, there’s cause for hope.”
Le Graet praised Deschamps — a combative midfielder who captained France to victory at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 — for handling all aspects of the job with poise. France’s notoriously hard-to-please fans have gotten behind the team and the atmosphere at home games has vastly improved compared to previous years.
“There’s no one better than him to do this job,” Le Graet said. “He is fully integrated.”