Kounde set for surgery amid Chelsea transfer interest

By Sports Desk June 14, 2022

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde will undergo surgery for a hamstring injury on Tuesday, having been withdrawn at half-time of France’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Croatia. 

The 23-year-old is a rumoured transfer target for Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, who were unable to complete a move 12 months ago but have revived their interest ahead of this window – though the injury may put a dent in the Blues' plans.

Kounde’s injury was something the team were aware of prior to the game, France boss Didier Deschamps confirmed, though the extent of his problem was not detailed after the match. 

"I knew very well his physical condition today. Tomorrow [Tuesday] he will have a [surgical] intervention because he has a problem that has been going on for several months," Deschamps said.

Capped 11 times by France, Kounde has established himself among the highest-rated young defenders in world football and shot to prominence during Sevilla's Europa League success in 2019-20. 

Utilised mainly as a central defender by his club side, Kounde's versatility has seen him feature regularly down the right for France. 

Les Bleus' defeat to Croatia in the Nations League capped off a woeful sequence for the defending champions, who sit rock bottom of group A1 without a win in their opening four matches – putting them at significant risk of relegation.

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    Juventus' Bremer, Atalanta midfielder Ederson and Porto forward Pepe were all called up when CONMEBOL announced the squads were being expanded from 23 players to 26.

    The Brazilian had already had to make changes after Manchester City's Ederson was ruled out due to an injury sustained at the end of the Premier League season, with Rafael brought in to replace him.

    Lucas Paqueta also keeps his place after the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) confirmed he would be allowed to stay with the squad despite being charged by the England Football Association (FA) for allegedly breaching betting rules.

    Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus and Thiago Silva had already been left out of the provisional squad announced in May, while Richarlison and Neymar are both missing due to injury.

    Brazil are nine-time winners of the Copa America and will begin their campaign against Costa Rica on June 24 before also facing Paraguay and Colombia in Group D.

    Final Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Bento (Atletico PR), Rafael (Sao Paolo), Beraldo (PSG), Bremer (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel (Arsenal), Marquinhos (PSG), Danilo (Juventus), Yan Couto (Girona), Guilherme Arana (Atletico MG), Wendell (Porto), Andreas Pereira (Fulham), Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Ederson (Atalanta), Joao Gomes (Wolves), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham), Endrick (Palmeiras), Evanilson (Porto), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Pepe (Porto), Raphinha (Barcelona), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Savinho (Girona), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

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    France are seen as one of the favourites to win the tournament in Germany, having reached the final at three of their last four major competitions, finishing as runners-up at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup either side of winning the 2018 World Cup.

    The Netherlands and Poland are also present in their tricky group, with Ronald Koeman's Oranje getting off the mark with a 2-1 win when those sides met on Sunday.

    Though Deschamps is keen to see France match that fast start, their experience at the Qatar World Cup proved it is not a necessity.

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    "The first match is very important, but not decisive," Deschamps said on Sunday. "Starting with a win… there is nothing better, Austria will think the same.

    "Negotiating this first match well would put us in a good position, but there is no one way to do it, look at Argentina!

    "This is the competition, we made sure with all the staff that they had all the information. The common trait between all the matches is that the intensity is very high. 

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    "I consider that my intervention would be inappropriate. I could have said, 'given the situation, guys, focus on the sport', as if I forbade them to speak," he said.

    "I didn't. They are men, French citizens, with their own sensitivities. When they are on the pitch, they are focused on the sporting objectives, but not disconnected from what can happen."

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