Marcel Desailly picked out Antoine Griezmann as "the key player" in France 's World Cup squad, drawing parallels with his former team-mate Zinedine Zidane.
Griezmann, who committed his future to Atletico Madrid two days before Les Bleus' World Cup opener against Australia on Saturday, scored from the penalty spot in his country's penultimate warm-up friendly against Italy and is expected to spearhead Didier Deschamps' attack on Saturday.
Desailly, who was speaking in Italy where he was helping Andrea Pirlo find a team to support at the World Cup as part of the #TeamForPirlo campaign, sung the 27-year-old's praises and said he expected him to bring the kind of match-winning qualities that Zidane displayed throughout the 1998 World Cup.
"I think that Didier clearly talked about it, Antoine Griezmann is the key player of this French national team," Desailly told Omnisport.
"He's the one who should change the dynamic. He's the one who should bring intensity to our offensive plays.
"Griezmann is the key player of this team like Zidane was in our time."
Desailly suggested Deschamps' decision to leave Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette and Kingsley Coman out of his World Cup squad may have been based on performances at Euro 2016, where he felt they lacked experience.
France lost 1-0 to Portugal in the final of their home European Championship, but Desailly said they would be gunning for glory with a new-look side in Russia.
"Martial, Lacazette and Kingsley Coman - that's a lot of players, I agree. That's a choice, that's Didier's one. He tried them during the European Championships. He may have realised that they were one level lower than what he was looking for," he added.
"Due to his philosophy and the way he chooses to use players together, he may have decided not to use them this time.
"The level of experience can be one reason but they could have won the competition in 2016. We need to keep working.
"We thought that Didier had his group at the end of the Euros. For this World Cup he has no choice but to rebuild a group to get a chance to [win it]."
Uber Eats is helping Andrea Pirlo find a team to support this summer, join in with #TeamForPirlo