Paris 2024: Thierry Henry unveils a first skeleton of his French Olympic team

“I wish Titi a lot of courage

Paris 2024: Thierry Henry unveils a first skeleton of his French Olympic team

“I wish Titi a lot of courage. » Didier Deschamps may have been all smiles, Thursday March 14, when announcing his French men's football team selected to face Germany then Chile in preparation for Euro 2024, the French coach would not like not be in his former teammate's place. At the head of the French Olympic football team, Thierry Henry has the difficult task of putting together a squad that will defend the French colors during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games (OG).

The former Arsenal star has revealed the list of U23 players (under 23, born after 2001), called to play the next preparation matches against Ivory Coast on March 22 and the United States on March 25. A team that does not include Bayern Munich striker Mathys Tel and Lyon midfielder Rayan Cherki. “Everything but a punishment” for these two players “lacking playing time”, insisted Thierry Henry on Thursday, interviewed by the L’Equipe channel.

Because despite their young age, the squad he built up within the 2001 and later generations is made up of players experienced in the French championship – and abroad. Like goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, starter at Lille and among the best in Ligue 1, Leipzig defender Castello Lukeba, or attackers Elye Wahi (Lens), Arnaud Kalimuendo (Rennes) or Bradley Barcola (PSG).

“It’s very complicated to follow” the Euro and the Games

Less than five months before the Olympic Games, where he will be able to bring players from the 2001 generation as well as three older "jokers", the former French international striker is still in the dark as to the squad he will have at his disposal to shine the blue jersey in Paris 2024. As the Olympic tournament is not included by the International Football Federation (FIFA) among its official competitions, clubs in France and elsewhere have no obligation to release their players.

The gathering in Clairefontaine (Yvelines) from next week constitutes the only meeting with his players for Thierry Henry, before he unveils, in mid-May, his list for the Olympics – made up of eighteen players and four reserves. An announcement which will come after that of Didier Deschamps for Euro 2024 in Germany, in order to give Henry time to make adjustments depending on the group selected among the “A”. The coach will then meet his players in mid-June to begin preparation for the tournament.

There is no shortage of candidates for the three places for players over 23 called to play in the Olympics. In particular, the names of three 2018 world champions come back insistently: the captain of the French team, Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and the veteran Olivier Giroud (37 years old) who must first obtain the agreement of their clubs respective. “It’s not me who decides. If Thierry decides and the club agrees, this player will be in the team,” Didier Deschamps said on Thursday, before insisting once again on the fact that for a player “it is very complicated to connect the two competitions physically and psychologically”.

One of the many aspects of the puzzle that Thierry Henry must solve, including that of convincing clubs – current or future, as for Kylian Mbappé, who announced his departure from PSG – to release their players for the Games. At the beginning of July, the coach will have to give his final list to the French National Olympic and Sports Committee. The game will be far from over, because there will still be a competition to compete, but Paris 2024 will know if, in football, certain French stars who have applied will be in the game.