Eliaquim Mangala: “Being the most expensive defender in the history of the game doesn’t add pressure”

With Les Bleus set to take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at the Stade de France on Saturday evening, Eliaquim Mangala, Dimitri Payet and Andre-Pierre Gignac were the latest members of the French camp to face the press and give their take on what should be an intriguing clash.

Eliaquim Mangala:

On his place in the squad: ‘I feel that I deserve my place in the group, every player here is ambitious and wants to be playing.’

‘I would’ve liked to have played at least one match at the World Cup but you have to respect the coach’s decisions.’

‘I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed not to play in Brazil but you’ve got to put the team first.’

On facing Portugal: ‘Portugal aren’t just about Ronaldo – although he does have a huge influence.’

On his big-money move to Manchester City: ‘Being the most expensive defender in the history of the [English] game doesn’t add any pressure.’


Dimitri Payet:

On the World Cup: ‘Despite not being picked, I made sure to follow my team-mate’s progress in Brazil.’

‘It wasn’t an error not to pick me for the World Cup, I’d just had a pretty average season. However, not being picked meant that I missed out on being part of a brilliant spectacle.’

On his role at Marseille: ‘Right from the start I could feel [Marcelo] Bielsa’s confidence in me. I’m an emotional player so I need that.’

‘Bielsa has given me lots of responsibility and I’m loving it on the pitch. I didn’t see myself as a playmaker but it feels good, I’m enjoying each and every match.’

On being in the France squad: ‘It’s always nice to be in the national team squad alongside other Marseille players as you already have a foundation to build upon.’

‘The atmosphere has changed, it’s a really relaxed group.’

On Gignac: ‘Gignac fits the mould of this team perfectly. He gives it everything he’s got and just keeps going.’


Andre-Pierre Gignac:

On being back with the national team: ‘There’s a solid core to this group and I’m going to try to add my unselfish play to that.’

‘The last time I was called up I felt pretty shy. This time I have every intention of imposing myself on the group.’

‘With Deschamps you spend more time with the ball at your feet.’

‘Everything’s going well with myself and Deschamps, we have a good relationship.’

On Marseille and his current form: ‘Both physically and mentally, I’d say that my current run of form is the best I’ve had since the start of my career.’

‘I was playing well even while carrying some extra weight so imagine what I could have done if I’d lost it even earlier…’

‘I’m still carrying on from last season but Bielsa came in and knew how to build a team and give the group confidence.’

‘The way we’ve started the season at Marseille shows that we’re not going to give one inch.’

‘Bielsa’s methods are really thorough, it’s definitely not a walk in the park for us players.’

On playing in Euro 2016: ‘If I maintain my current club form then I have every chance [of being there].’

On facing Portugal: ‘France are ranked above Portugal but we can’t underestimate them.’

On facing Ronaldo: ‘Along with Messi he’s the best player in the world. His stats are just mind-blowing.’


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