Rising up the ranks in the world of football is a certain young 21-year French defender who plies his trade at Sevilla in Spain. The name Jules Kounde is enveloped by a transfer frenzy halo that has resonated with his outstanding performances in La Liga.
The trinity of young French defenders has been the talk of the summer. RB Leipzig duo Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahim Konate have both sealed deals to Bayern Munich and Liverpool respectively. As the transfer focus shifts with the completion of two, the scouting eyes continue to scour the defence paradigm as the noise continues to build around Jules Kounde.
Kounde was born in Paris. He played at various regional sides as a kid before eventually moving to Bordeaux. He quickly rose up the ranks and made his professional debut at 19 years of age. In his first full season at the club, Bordeaux finished 6th and qualified for the Europa League.
The sale of striker Malcolm to Barcelona the following summer had far-reaching effects on the performance of the side as Bordeaux finished 8 places below and scored 20 goals lesser than the previous campaign.
The season after that Kounde featured in 51 games for Bordeaux as the team improved drastically with Kounde establishing himself as a regular in the side. He had 129 passes into the final third that season which was a league-high. Bordeaux also ranked third in the league in terms of touches in the defensive third.
His strong showing in Ligue 1 generated a lot of buzz which warranted a move. La Liga giants Sevilla paid £25 million which was a huge statement for a player that young.
THE REAL DEAL
The 2020 Europa League Final was epoch-making for a few reasons. Romelu Lukaku was chasing down Ronaldo’s Inter goal scoring record, Sevilla reclaimed the Europa League trophy and an awe-inspiring performance from the young defender Jules Kounde. At the tender age of 21, the Frenchman was already a starter for Sevilla and had already featured in eight Europa League games.
3 – Defenders to have scored and completed 50+ passes in a single game against Barcelona in all competitions since at least 2013/14:
2015 – Medhi Benatia 🇲🇦 (68) – Champions League
2020 – Sergio Ramos 🇪🇸 (53) – LaLiga
2021 – JULES KOUNDÉ 🇫🇷 (63) – #CopadelRey
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 10, 2021
Arriving at the Final, Kounde had already faced Anthony Martial, Raul Jiminez, Edin Dzeko as threats, but a rejuvenated Romelu Lukaku was going to be a different test for the Frenchman. Lukaku alongside his partner Lautaro Martinez offered a distinct threat as the duo bounced off each other.
Sevilla conceded an early penalty after Kounde’s defensive partner Diego Carlos brought down Lukaku. Carlos was troubled all night and was run ragged by Lukaku and Martinez however despite the defensive liability in Carlos, Kounde showcased one of the great authoritative performances from a centre back.
Kounde’s performance in the final drew him deserved recognition outside his home country of France. He had a standout performance in the league that year under Julen Lopetguii. The Spaniard after being sacked by Real Madrid started a rebuild of Sevilla squad.
Man Utd and Chelsea joined by Real Madrid in Jules Kounde transfer as they consider offering £52m plus a playerhttps://t.co/PFwwqfKrto
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) April 29, 2021
Sevilla finished fourth alongside their Europa League Triumph. Kounde’s numbers that season increased drastically. His passing accuracy skyrocketed to 88%. His ability to find the long pass also significantly improved as he completed 75% of his 453 attempts.
This season Kounde has gone on to become one of the best defenders in La Liga and is being constantly linked with a move to Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
As with a few positions World Champions France are spoilt for choice with their defensive options. The young options of Kounde, Umpamcano, Konate and Wesley Fofana are joined by the experience of Varane, Lenglet, Kimpemde, Hernandez. At least one of these young stars is sure to dominate establish themselves over the next decade.
22-year-old Kounde has starred for Sevilla this term and along with the likes of Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate, is regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe ✅ https://t.co/VfEtIXdW4x
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) February 25, 2021
With the injuries that have hampered Real Madrid’s Varane, Kounde looks like the ideal choice to become a long term successor to the experienced Madrid centre half. Kounde is still awaiting his first International senior call up, but with the performances, he’s been displaying it seems almost warranted soon enough
Coming up against possibly his future international compatriot Varane on Sunday, the battle between experience and promise will be the highlight from a French perspective. However irrespective of the result it remains certain the chatter around Kounde’s is for real, and come the transfer window, it will be a frenzy for the services of the young man.