Benjamin Pavard: VfB Stuttgart's defensive ace on France's radar

VfB Stuttgart's Benjamin Pavard has quickly become one of the Bundesliga’s strongest stalwarts, and having been rewarded for his fine start to the Bundesliga season with a first call-up to France's senior squad, the only way appears to be up.

The 21-year-old has been ever-present for Stuttgart this season, playing every single Bundesliga minute and helping the Swabian outfit adjust to life back in the top flight. With Monaco's Djibril Sidibe injured, Pavard made his senior international debut against Wales in Paris on 10 November and having continued in good form since then, could be in line for a surprise summer trip to Russia.

"The club never tells me if I've been pre-selected. I just saw the list when it was published. The problem was that I was in my German class. Afterwards, the whole team ate together, and I saw my telephone kept ringing. I said to myself, 'What's going on?'" said Pavard, who has 15 Under-21 caps.

Watch: The Bundesliga's French connection, featuring Pavard!

"Honestly, I was very very surprised and very very happy. It's one of the best days of my life because I really didn't expect it in fact. I'm not going to hide the fact I cried and my parents too, because all the sacrifices we have made since I was little have paid off. I don't think I've ever cried as much. It's only the start, the hardest part is to come."

Pavard, who joined Stuttgart from Lille in 2016, has helped VfB Stuttgart to arguably their best month of the season so far. In February, under new head coach Tayfun Korkut, the newly-promoted side took 10 points from four games, conceding only one goal and keeping three clean sheets.

Pavard himself won 68 per cent of his challenges, committing only two fouls across the 360 minutes of action. His versatility is what makes the young defender stand out, as with the flexible Stuttgart defensive line which can set-up with four or three men, Pavard is integral and can operate centrally or on the right.

On his France debut, Pavard played at right-back exploiting his chameleon-esque qualities to adapt to his team’s needs, and despite the tears there will be no shirking his responsibilities. As Pavard says himself, “I’ve matured into a man.”

Now, after a dream return to the Bundesliga with Stuttgart, a World Cup could beckon. “If I could go, it would be the icing on the cake.”

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