Tonight, France take on the Republic of Ireland in a Euro 2024 qualifier at Parc des Princes (Stade de France is unavailable due to the impending World Cup in another code).
As they did during last year’s run to the World Cup final, Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé will wear numbers 10 and 11 respectively. However, the match against Ireland will be the first time that they line up for their country as team-mates at club level.
When Mbappé was first called up to the France side in 2016-17, he wore both 20 and 12 before claiming the number 10 shirt as Alexandre Lacazette fell out of favour. At the time, Mbappé was number 29 for Monaco and he donned that number in his first season at PSG, switching to 7 for the 2018-19 season – 10 was held by Neymar.
The continued presence of Antoine Griezmann – who regained 7 at Atlético Madrid this summer – prevented Mbappé from synching up as 7 for club and country. He could have taken 10 at PSG when Neymar departed for Al Hilal recently but that didn’t happen. Instead, the shirt went to Dembélé.
When the winger moved to Paris from Barcelona earlier in the off-season, he was initially assigned number 23, which he worn for his first club, Rennes. At Barça, he had worn 11 and then 7 – his successor in 11, Ferran Torres, replicated that switch after Dembélé left, but 7 was obviously Mbappé’s and 11 had been given to Marco Asensio when he arrived from Real Madrid. Neymar’s move to Saudi Arabia allowed Dembélé to wear the third different 1-11 number of his career.
Dembélé’s swap allowed another France international, Randal Kolo Muani, to take number 23 when he signed from Eintracht Frankfurt close to the end of the transfer window. While his international number 12 (a Thierry Henry tribute, perhaps?) was free at PSG, he preferred to go with the digits he had previously carried on his back for Nantes.
France’s number 23 is goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who also wears it for West Ham United, having switched from 13 during the summer.