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Kante Returns From Wilderness, Makes France Euro Squad

Kante left English side Chelsea last summer to join Saudi club Al Ittihad and has not represented France since June 2022.


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FILE: France’s defender N’golo Kante (R) is comforted by France’s coach Didier Deschamps (C) after he was substituted during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Bulgaria and France at The Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia on October 7, 2017. Nikolay DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

World champion N’Golo Kante will make a surprise return to international football as France coach Didier Deschamps announced Thursday the 25 players that will make up the French squad at Euro 2024.

Kante left English side Chelsea last summer to join Saudi club Al Ittihad and has not represented France since June 2022.

“He played a full season (Kante struggled with injury during his time with Chelsea), albeit not in a European league, as he is in Saudi Arabia,” said Deschamps on French TV channel TF1.

“He’s back to full fitness. With his experience, I’m convinced that the French team will be stronger with N’Golo Kante.”

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The 2018 World Cup winner was the big surprise in Deschamps’ squad but the 33-year-old’s experience will doubtless be a help to youngsters Warren Zaire-Emery and Bradley Barcola, who also made the squad after fine seasons at Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Star attacker Kylian Mbappe was also included in the squad, as were Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Arsenal defender William Saliba.

“Very happy to be on the list, it’s one of the best competitions to play with France and I’m very happy and proud to represent my country,” said Zaire-Emery via video link on TF1.

The 18-year-old added that he had been granted a special dispensation to sit his final school exams later in order to perform at his best at the Euro during the summer.

“I asked to be able to do it in September to be calm and focussed on football,” said Zaire-Emery.

After defeat in the final at home in 2016 and a disappointing early exit in 2021, France come into Euro 2024 among the pre-tournament favourites to win a third European Championship after victory in 1984 and 2000.

France will begin their Euro campaign in Germany on June 17 against Austria, before taking on the Netherlands four days later and completing their group-stage matches against Poland on June 25.

France squad for EURO 2024

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham/ENG), Mike Maignan (AC Milan/ITA), Brice Samba (Lens)

Defenders: Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Al Ittihad/KSA), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid/ESP), Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco)

Forwards: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Bradley Barcola (Paris Saint-Germain), Ousmane Dembele (Paris Saint-Germain), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Marcus Thuram (Inter Milan/ITA), Randal Kolo Muani (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA)

AFP