The latest generation of talented French footballers won’t be appearing at the European Under-21 Championships after being knocked out of the qualifying play-off by Sweden.
And far from simply being a blow to the short-term aspirations of the starlets involved – Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma among them – it could have a more far-reaching legacy.
An Under-21 collective that also includes such notable aces as Juventus’ Kingsley Koman, Monaco’s Jeffrey Kondogbia and Marseille’s Gianelli Imbula will miss out on a chance to tournament-hone what could be Les Bleus’ core for years to come.
For proof of the benefits of forging a future senior team in age-group football, one need look no further than Germany.
In 2009 Die ‘Jungmannschaft’ lifted the European Under-21 Championship in Sweden, giving England a 4-0 pasting in the final.
Among the German XI for the decider were Manuel Neuer, Bendikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
All bar Howedes were present in the young squad that reached the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa just a year later.
Meanwhile, all only the injured Khedira failed to start Germany’s victory over Argentina in the Brazil 2014 decider earlier this summer.
France’s inability to emulate the Germans in laying the foundations for a strong showing in next year’s tournament with Under-21 success gives their odds of 19/4 about Euro 2016 glory a slender look.
Instead the likes of Joachim Low’s side, whose youth arm has already qualified for their 2015 tournament in the Czech Republic, look more alluring as 7/2 favourites.
Zouma’s Chelsea, in the meantime, are as short as 2/5 as they seek to sustain their five-point lead atop the Premier League by avenging last season’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.