Algiers (AFP) – Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi said Andy Delort was “no longer selectable” on Thursday after the Nice striker told him he was putting club before country.
Belmadi said the two had had a “very heated” exchange after the player sent a message announcing his decision.
“Four or five days ago, the player sent me a message saying that in agreement with his club, he chose his club because he wants to succeed in that challenge and that for this he had to put the national team on hold for a year,” Belmadi told a press conference held near Algiers ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Niger.
“This kind of thing is not sent by message and I pointed it out,” the coach added. “It was very heated. I told him: ‘this is not the way to do it, you are dealing with a nation, a country that has opened its arms to you.’ I blamed him and his club.”
Belmadi said that he had earlier been told by a third person that when Delort joined Nice in August from Montpellier, the player “signed a document that he would not play in the African Cup of Nations.”
Delort denied having signed such a document and said that the decision had been deeply thought through.
“I’m an all in kind of person and I always give things 100 precent,” said Delort, whose club Nice sit third in the league table.
“And this decision is important for me for this season,” he said with expectations high at the ambitious Ligue 1 outfit.
“But I’m in no way making my international retirement,” he insisted.
Delort, who was born in Sete in the south of France, played once for the French under-20 team. He qualifies for Algeria through his mother and in 2019, at the age of 28, opted to play for the country.
He was accused of opportunism by some Fennec fans, but after Algeria at once won the Cup of Nations in Egypt, their attitude changed.
Belmadi said Delort would have been in his squad against Niger “as in all the lists since he is Algerian. De facto, he is no longer selectable. Maybe in a year, maybe with someone else, I do not know,” said Belmadi.