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The Sochaux playmaker has all the attributes to be a fixture in Laurent Blanc's side for years to come, and Tuesday could prove the watershed encounter in which he breaks through

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by Robin Bairner | French Football Editor

There can be little doubt last season that the outstanding playmaker in France was Sochaux’s Marvin Martin, who took it upon himself to smash the record for number of assists made in a solitary campaign.

The 23-year-old not only surpassed the previous mark of 11, which was set by Marseille’s record signing Lucho Gonzalez, he simply annihilated it, chalking up a remarkable 17 decisive passes over the course of a memorable season.

Martin may only have firmly broken into the starting XI of the modest Ligue 1 outfit in 2010-11, yet there is an increasing clamour for him to be involved more prominently in the France setup after an impressive start to this current campaign.

Former boss Francis Gillot, who traded the eastern club to move the breadth of France to Bordeaux in the summer, is amongst the player’s staunchest admirers.

“Marvin is not afraid,” he told L’Equipe on Monday. “He plays every ball, even with his head. He is not a player who will hide. “

In his relatively fleeting appearances for les Bleus, Martin has shown only promise and poise, aided by a two goal salvo in a substitute debut appearance against Ukraine. Since then, he has played on three occasions, and though he has not made quite such a startling impact, there has been more than enough to suggest that he is a star in the marking.

Suggested France XI to play Romania

GOALKEEPER

Hugo Lloris


RIGHT-BACK
CENTRE BACK
CENTRE BACK
LEFT-BACK

Bacary Sagna

Adil Rami

Eric Abidal

Patrice Evra


DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD

Alou Diarra

Yann M'Vila


RIGHT WING
ATTACKING MIDFIELD
LEFT WING

Franck Ribery

Marvin Martin

Samir Nasri


CENTRE FORWARD

Karim Benzema


As Arsene Wenger scoured Europe for a replacement for Cesc Fabregas, the young Frenchman was quickly linked with a potential move to North London, where he is said to be held in high esteem.

And little wonder. On the ball, Martin displays lovely self-assurance and provides the kind of incision that has regularly been lacking in the French side lately, adding weight to the cries of those who believe he is a strong candidate to start Tuesday evening’s match in Romania.

Samir Nasri was unable to find any space through the centre against Albania on Friday night and could be more effectively used out wide, where Florent Malouda was hopelessly ineffective in Tirana.

The Manchester City attacker, who proved so dangerous for the Citizens playing off the left flank on his debut against Tottenham, reaping three assists, could be used in an interchangeable fashion with Franck Ribery, who despite also frustrating in Albania showed enough potential with some incisive late dribbles to suggest that he still has a major starting role to play.

Martin, however, is the player the offence could pivot around. Confident but not egotistical, technical but not garish, and, crucially, in form, Tuesday’s encounter provides the burgeoning young talent with a backdrop upon which he could really stamp his authority on the international scene.  

Perhaps the only thing lacking in the playmaker’s career is his name in lights for a sustained period, and if he can help les Bleus take a crucial movement towards Ukraine and Poland, his move to an elite club such as the Gunners will become only more inevitable.

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