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Mathieu Debuchy’s unlikely return: leader, goalscorer … France full-back?

Mathieu Debuchy was playing in Arsenal’s reserves a few months ago but his current form could take him to Russia

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

“I train with the pros during the week and I play with the youngsters at weekends. I am not the future of the club.” At the start of the season, 32-year-old Mathieu Debuchy was disconsolate about his exile from Arsenal’s first team and had slim chances of being part of any club’s future. Lengthy injuries and the rise of Héctor Bellerín had derailed his career, a career that seemed to be winding down prematurely. But now, rescued by St Étienne, Debuchy has enjoyed a startling renaissance as a goalscorer, a leader and even the Ligue 1 player of the month for February. Miraculously, he could still make it to Russia this summer.

He struggled to find a way out of Arsenal last summer. Brighton made contact at the end of transfer window but it came to nothing; his six-month loan spell with Bordeaux in 2016 had also proven fruitless – his form and, crucially, fitness fell short of his best; and, worst of all, Nice showed interest but then disappeared. “I met Julien Fournier, the general manager of the club, in June,” explained Debuchy. “We discussed everything: Nice, me, how I was getting on. He asked me to meet the coach. I even agreed to physical tests – they were positive but there was no news.” Debuchy eventually found out Christophe Jallet had been signed instead – “like everyone else, in the press.”

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