Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has announced his retirement from international football at the age of just 29.
Varane won the World Cup with France in 2018 and was in the side beaten by Argentina in last year’s final.
With 93 caps, he was one of the most experienced members of Didier Deschamps’ squad and was tipped to take over as captain when goalkeeper Hugo Lloris announced his own retirement last month.
Instead, former Real Madrid centre-back Varane has decided the time is also right for him to step aside and concentrate on club duties.
Varane, who made his international debut in 2013, wrote on Instagram: “Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life.
“Each time I wore this special blue jersey, I felt immense pride. The duty to give everything, to play with my heart and to win every time we enter the field.
“I have been thinking about it for several months and decided that it was the right time for me to retire from international football.”
Varane described winning the World Cup as “one of greatest and most memorable moments of my life”.
He added: “I will miss these moments with you (the fans) for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over.
“We have a group of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you.”
Varane also paid tribute to Deschamps and his team-mates.
The news is likely to be welcomed by United manager Erik ten Hag, with Varane having been a regular in his defence this season.
“Raphael called me a few days ago to explain that he wanted to end his international career. He’s an intelligent boy who knows how to take the time to think about it and weigh up the pros and cons before deciding,” France coach Deschamps said.
“Raphael believes he has reached the end of his adventure with the French team. I’ve been in a similar situation to him, I understand his arguments and respect his decision.
“As our paths separate, I wanted to salute his honesty, his unfailing commitment to the blue jersey. Raphael has played a central role on and off the field for the past decade.” (Sky)