Real Madrid and Man Utd target Kounde shows he's not just a centre-back

Robin Bairner
Sevilla star Jules Kounde playing for France ahead of Euro 2020

Sevilla star Jules Kounde playing for France ahead of Euro 2020

Real Madrid and Manchester United transfer target Jules Kounde showed his versatility playing for France in their Euro 2020 draw with Portugal on Wednesday.

Though typically deployed as a centre-back, he was used on the right of the defence by Didier Deschamps against the reigning European champions, with Benjamin Pavard dropped after an indifferent display against Hungary.

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It proved a tricky test for the highly rated 22-year-old as he gave away a penalty for handball in the 2-2 draw.

Indeed, it was the first time this season that Kounde had played as a right-back, having featured exclusively in the heart of defence for the La Liga club. Moreover, right-back is a role he has played on only four occasions at senior club level.

Given the quality of opponent he was up against, then, it was little surprise it proven a difficult challenge.

On Thursday, he recounted his experience and outlined his stance when it comes to playing away from his usual role.

“My basic position is as a centre-back and the coach is aware of that,” he said. “He knows that I can play at right-back and adapt to it. By playing there only a little, it’s still not very natural, but I try to make my presence count.”

It’s a different position from a central defender and it requires a significant offensive contribution
- Jules Kounde

He went on to explain why the role is difficult to slot into.

“Playing as a full-back, it’s a different position from a central defender and it requires a significant offensive contribution. This is where I've got room for improvement,” he said. “You get that through repletion, which I’ve had more at club level than with the national team.”

Who wants to sign Kounde?

Kounde, meanwhile, has won interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, not because of his contribution in the wide areas but because of his excellence at centre-back for Sevilla.

It appears to be Real Madrid who lead the way for the young Frenchman, who celebrated his first start and just his second international cap against Portugal. Having released Sergio Ramos, Madrid may also decide to offload France defender Raphael Varane this summer, with the former Lens player out of contract in a year.

Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal have also been linked with the player.

With Man Utd closely monitoring Varane, the door could be pushed open for Kounde to leave Sevilla for Real Madrid as a result.