Le Normand had ‘no doubts’ about Spain switch despite Deschamps call

New Spain defender Robin Le Normand said Sunday he was called by France coach Didier Deschamps but had “no doubts” in choosing to play for La Roja.

The 26-year-old Real Sociedad centre-back, born in the Brittany region of France, obtained Spanish nationality in May and was selected by Spain coach Luis de la Fuente to play in the Nations League final four next week.

Le Normand played at youth level for French side Brest, making one appearance for the first team, before joining La Liga club Real Sociedad in 2016.

“I saw the confidence of the people at the (Spanish football) federation, the coach, my team-mates and my family, everything was very clear in my head, there were no doubts,” Le Normand told a news conference.

“(Deschamps) told me he was watching me and that he valued me.

“That did not change anything in my head, I was very calm … the truth is that if the French coach rates you, it’s a very good thing, but as I’ve alway said, Spain was there from the first minute.

“I’ve been here for eight years, I feel great, very happy in Spain.”

Le Normand, who was never called up by France, follows in the footsteps of Aymeric Laporte, who obtained Spanish nationality in 2021, and Brazil-born Diego Costa, who did the same in 2013.

Laporte has also been included in the squad for the Nations League final four matches.

Le Normand had previously said he wanted to play for the French national team, but said he had evaluated the situation with more “maturity”.

“When you’re younger, you arrive in Spain, playing for Spain just seems like a hypothesis, you aren’t really thinking about it,” added Le Normand.

“But later, after my path, with more maturity, you try to understand the situation better, you look at it in another way.”

– Improvements –

Le Normand has become one of La Liga’s best defenders and helped Real Sociedad qualify for the Champions League after 10 years away from the competition.

The centre-back credits coach Imanol Alguacil and the Basque club with helping him find his footing and improve, one of the reasons he decided to play for the 2010 World Cup winners.

“(I’ve improved) in almost everything, that’s the truth, when I arrived I wasn’t even good enough to play in the third division,” said Le Normand.

“It was hours of video, of suffering, repetition — Imanol Alguacil has been very important, I have to thank him, the club and my team-mates.

“Physically I had a good base, tactically I had weaknesses.”

Le Normand said he thought Spain had work to do to reach the level of France, who won the World Cup in 2018 and finished runners-up to Argentina last year.

“What’s clear is that France are doing things very well, they were world champions and now they’re runners-up,” said Le Normand.

“But in my decision, what was clear was where I felt well, where I saw confidence in me, and the truth is that after two days here I think I’ve chosen well.

“There are very good people, above all great players … we have to work, it’s clear that we have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s see where it takes us.”

Spain face Italy in the Netherlands in the Nations League final four semi-finals on Thursday, where Le Normand could make his debut.



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