Thuram eyeing French leave

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Lilian Thuram has admitted his position in the France team should be called into question now he is not playing regular first-team football.

The Barcelona centre-back, 35, has had to adjust to life as a substitute at Camp Nou, and believes France coach Raymond Domenech would be foolish not to be looking at younger alternatives.

"It is obvious, considering my situation at Barcelona, that we need to think about my position in the France team," he said.

"It would be stupid not to prepare for the fact that I may not be at the right level, because I'm 35 years old and not playing anymore. I want to be honest with myself and the French team.

"The most important thing is not for me to go on playing as long as I can for the national team, but for the national team to be outstanding.

"Just because I am Lilian Thuram does not mean I should be given preferential treatment."

Thuram is not yet ready to retire from international duties, but believes Domenech should be looking to Roma's Philippe Mexes as a potential long-term replacement.

"I'm not setting a date for my international retirement, but Philippe Mexes is the most gifted among the players who could replace me.

"He was the youngest to join the French team, which is a sign of unusual qualities. When he really wants to become a part of the first-team, he will remain there for a long time."

And, despite failing to secure a first-team berth at Barcelona, he has no intention of leaving the club.

"I'm not thinking about leaving Barcelona. I signed for two years and I'm hoping that I can fulfil my contract.

"The only thing that could make me leave is the club asking me to."