Alassane Plea hopes to follow the example of Stuttgart's FIFA World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard as the on-fire Borussia Mönchengladbach forward aims for a France call-up.
Following his summer move from Nice, Plea has started life in the Bundesliga like a train with his strike in Gladbach's 3-0 win at Bayern Munich on Matchday 7 his fifth goal of the campaign.
Regarded as a useful top-flight performer in his native country, the former Lyon forward has already taken a step up in status with the Foals, though his current red-hot streak of form came too late for him to be considered by Didier Deschamps for Les Bleus' friendly with Iceland and UEFA Nations League encounter with Germany later this month.
Watch: Plea scores a stunner as Gladbach draw at Wolfsburg
However, after seeing Pavard go from unknown to household name and world champion in the space of two seasons in Germany, Plea told L'Equipe he now hopes to mimic the Stuttgart defender's rocket-propelled trajectory onto the international scene.
"Every player thinks about it, but I'm aware I still have some steps to take before being able to contend for a call-up," said Plea, who has just one U21 cap — won in 2014 — to his name. "Les Bleus, it's the very top level. It's up to me to keep working hard to be able to be called up one day. The example of Benjamin Pavard gives me hope, because it's proof the national team coach follows the Bundesliga and you don't necessarily have to be playing for a massive European club to get called up."
"It's an ultra-competitive league. In terms of rhythm and intensity, the Bundesliga is a level above Ligue 1, as well as in terms of popularity. We regularly play in front of 60-70,000 fans. Each game is a sell-out.
"In training, everything is done with great discipline and thoroughness. I'm really happy to have signed for Borussia, and all the more so as I am really enjoying playing in this league," he stated, adding the opportunity to speak his mother tongue with teammates such as Belgium international Thorgan Hazard and Switzerland duo Yann Sommer and Denis Zakaria has helped make the change smoother.
"I've been very warmly welcomed. I'm settling in really well. I'm happy on and off the pitch. It's my first experience of playing abroad, and I'm fortunate to have a number of French speakers as teammates, which has helped me settle in, but the others players too — that's helped me get my bearings quickly. It reminds me of Nice where there's the same sort of atmosphere, so I don't feel homesick."