France's football chiefs insisted on Tuesday that Didier Deschamps was still among the candidates lined up to take over Les Bleus, dismissing reports in the media that the former World Cup-winning captain had turned the job down.
French newspapers widely reported on Tuesday that Deschamps had rejected an offer from the French Football Federation (FFF) to succeed Laurent Blanc as manager of the national team.
But FFF chief Noël Le Graët, who was criticised for failing to hold on to Blanc, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that Deschamps was still in the running.
"Didier Deschamps has not said no. He is taking time out to think with his family," said Le Graët.
"Deschamps is a very good option. We will hold off for a few days. The French team is part of his dreams, and he is someone I would like to work with," added Le Graët.
Deschamps had been in pole position to take the reins of the national team since parting company with Marseille on Monday.
But speculation in the French media suggested Deschamp was reluctant to work with Le Graët.
It is believed Deschamps has misgivings about working under the conditions imposed by Le Graët, which include a limit on the number of staff he could incorporate into his team.
The €100,000 a month salary is also believed to be well below the expectations of Deschamps, who earned more than twice that amount at Marseille.
French football in the doldrums
French football chiefs are running out of time to appoint a successor to Blanc. Their next fixture against Uruguay is just over a month away, before the 2014 World cup qualifiers begin in earnest.
If Deschamps decides he does not want the job, French football chefs will have to spread their net a little wider than was first envisaged as they continue the hunt for Blanc’s successor.
Former Lyon and Paris Saint Germain manager Paul Le Guen has been touted as a possibility for the job.
But even Le Guen might think twice. He has just signed a two-year extension to his contract as coach of the Oman national team and may not want to return to France.
The names of former players Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana have also been thrown into the mix. Rudi Garcia, the manager of Lille, and Rene Girard, who led Montpellier to their first Ligue 1 title last season, are two other candidates the FFF will want to look at.
Whoever takes charge of Les Bleus will have a tough task trying to restore faith in a team who are unloved by the French public.
An opinion poll published at the weekend in Le Journal du Dimanche revealed only 20 percent of the French public felt affection for the national team.
France’s disappointing showing at Euro 2012 and the poor behaviour of certain players like Samir Nasri, whose tournament ended with a foul-mouthed rant at a journalist, have done little to improve relations soured by disastrous campaigns at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
“Ten years ago France was the example for all other countries to follow, now we are behind everyone,” Eurosport's Cedric Rouquette told FRANCE 24.
“It’s not a great time for French football and in particular for the national team.”
France’s new coach will have to guide the demoralised team through a tricky qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
France’s main opponents in their group are none other than Spain, who have just become the first team in history to win three consecutive major titles. Only one team is guaranteed a spot in the tournament.