Kante makes surprise return to France Euro squad



Fri, 17 May 2024 - 09:04 GMT


Fri, 17 May 2024 - 09:04 GMT

France's N'Golo Kante during training Pool via REUTERS/Alexander Hassenstein/File Photo

France's N'Golo Kante during training Pool via REUTERS/Alexander Hassenstein/File Photo

(Reuters) - N'Golo Kante made a surprise return to the French national team after a two-year absence as head coach Didier Deschamps unveiled his 25-man squad for the European Championship on Thursday, with France captain Kylian Mbappe leading the way.


Kante, who is back to his national team despite not having played since 2022, joined Al Ittihad on a free transfer from Chelsea, where he managed to regain his shape, making 41 appearances this season.


"His last selection was in June 2022. What followed was much more complicated for him, with a serious injury that prevented him from playing and certainly from being part of the squad for the World Cup," Deschamps said to a press conference


"We followed him regularly. He was able to regain all his footballing and athletic ability by playing a lot of matches. The situation was clear in my mind. I took this decision because I believe that the French team will be stronger with him," the coach added


Antoine Griezmann is also back in the squad after missing the friendlies against Germany and Chile in March due to injury. Olivier Giroud, who will leave Europe for the American Major League Soccer (MLS) side Los Angeles FC at the end of the season, has also been included.


Among the youngsters are PSG winger Bradley Barcola, 21, the only debutant called up by Deschamps, who said he had "the ability to make a difference and score goals". PSG midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery, 18, is the youngest player in the squad.


PSG defender Lucas Hernandez is the most notable absentee, with the 2018 World Cup winner suffering a season-ending cruciate ligament tear during the Champions League semi-final against Dortmund.


"He's had a string of injuries, but he's improved his game, which was mainly attacking. He projects himself a lot less, but he has improved defensively, which was not his strong point. He's where he belongs," added Deschamps.


Despite their injury problems, Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni and Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman have both been called up.


Goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who has 14 caps, will be first choice ahead of Brice Samba and Alphonse Areola following Hugo Lloris' international retirement.


France, who were knocked out by Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020, last lifted the trophy in 2000. They will face Austria in their Euros group stage opening game on June 17.



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