Didier Deschamps contemplates the perception of problems around the French camp with the tenacity anyone who watched him patrolling a midfield would expect.
His expression, as a series of issues are laid before him, is determinedly dismissive. What of the controversies? The scandals? The endless polemics about Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and so on?
“No, no,” rebuffs Deschamps. “These are not controversies. These are stories which have been invented to create distractions. The only story that exists concerns Paul and it is his private problem. He is a victim. Everything else…”
He blows a short, sharp, raspberry.
“There is a climate out there that is not serene and calm, but all is well.”
Deschamps is aware of the obstacles strewn in France’s path as they prepare to defend the World Cup hoisted in Russia in 2018. But he will not let external noise infiltrate the job at hand he intends to keep strictly between himself, his staff and his players.
It is a sunny afternoon on the Cote D’Azur.
Deschamps has lunch by the water’s edge in Monaco, not far from his home in one of the picturesque French villages nearby. People are still swimming in the Mediterranean, ambling down the promenades. Deschamps looks and sounds relaxed, but he is also bullish about finding pragmatic ways to form a serious challenge from a very complicated set of conditions.