Jules Koundé: 8 Things to Know About Rising French Star

Jules Kounde
Jules Kounde is in high demand | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

If you haven’t taken notice of Sevilla centre-back Jules Koundé, it’s time you do. He could be the name on everyone’s lips in the next 12 months.

In his debut season in Spain, the 21-year-old Frenchman was an integral part of Sevilla’s successful Europa League campaign and has since attracted interest from Manchester City, who failed with a €55m bid to sign him this summer.

It’s time to pay close attention to Koundé, and here’s everything you need to know about him.

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Kounde is known as Cafu among his team-mates | PEDRO UGARTE/Getty Images

Despite being a centre-back by trade, Koundé has spent a fair bit of time out as a right-back, and his Sevilla teammates were so impressed with his skills out wide that they named him ‘Cafu’, after the iconic Brazilian defender.

“In training he takes the ball on the side, runs out and we shout: ‘There goes Cafu!'” centre-back partner Diego Carlos told ESPN.

“He goes and doesn’t come back, he advances until he finishes and scores. He’s a boy who can go back and forth, has a lot of strength and power in his legs.”

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Kounde once had real problems with losing | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

During an interview with Onze Mondial, Koundé confessed that he has never dealt well with defeat. When he was eight years old, he used to throw tantrums when his side lost and even ended up kicking his own mother in frustration.

He had to change teams because he couldn’t cope with losing and ended up having to see a psychiatrist to address his anger issues which, fortunately, are no longer a problem.

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Kounde dreams of making a real impact | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

One look at Koundé’s Twitter account and you’ll see that the Frenchman is well aware that there is more to life than football.

Koundé prefers to use his influence to try to inspire change in the world, tackling various social, political and environmental issues to try and inspire change.

He takes inspiration from Nelson Mandela and also NBA star LeBron James, who uses his platform for the same reasons.

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Kounde isn’t blessed with real height | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

When you think of a typical centre-back, Koundé won’t often spring to mind because of his physicality. He stands at closer to 5’10, and it’s something that he is well aware will be seen as a problem.

“Growing up, it was often said to me that my size could be a problem for managers,” he told Foot Mercato. “I always tried to compensate with my technique, with how I play out from the back, it’s very important,” he said shortly after breaking into the Bordeaux first-team.

“It’s true that sometimes at my height you can’t always challenge in aerial duels but you can always manage the opponent. I’ve always had good timing, I like aerial duels and I jump relatively high, so that really helps. But my small size has never been a problem for me.”

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He loves an aerial battle | TF-Images/Getty Images

Despite his slight frame, Koundé ended last season with one of the best records for aerial duels in La Liga. According to the player himself, that’s because opponents always underestimate him.

“I win more head-to-head duels than Sergio Ramos because the opponents don’t dare play long on Ramos,” Koundé explained. “They must say to themselves ‘It’s Jules Koundé, he’s not tall, we’re going to take him down in the air’.

“I am often targeted, I feel it. And sometimes, it is pointed out to me. After games, I am often told that. When I watch my matches again, I realise that I play a lot more aerial duels than the others. They say to themselves that it will be easier against Koundé, and that motivates me.”

Koundé relishes aerial battles, but one of his top attributes is his passing range. Bordeaux began to give him more influence towards the end of his time in France and Sevilla are rarely scared of asking him to kickstart their attacks.

He’s known for his love of a long pass, and he definitely has the quality to pull them off, but one concern for Koundé is that he does not yet have the required vision to make him a major threat.

He often misses good runs from his teammates, but that’s something which can be improved as he develops.

Alongside City, Koundé’s name has been linked to a whole host of European giants, with Real Madrid and Barcelona often suggested as potential suitors. Unfortunately for them, Koundé’s having none of it.

He told Estadio Deportivo that he is no rush to leave Sevilla, before echoing to Marca that he’s keen to play in the Champions League with Sevilla next season.

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Kounde enjoys watching Varane and Ramos | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

You can often tell a lot about a young player from which other stars they like to watch. For Koundé, his favourite player to watch is fellow Frenchman Raphaël Varane, but there are a few others he enjoys.

Koundé credits both Sergio Ramos and Thiago Silva for helping him grow as a player, and he has always relished lining up opposite those players during his career.

For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!

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The Amazing Stats That Prove Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-min Have a Telepathic Connection

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Son and Kane were in incredible form during their side’s 5-2 win | ANDREW BOYERS/Getty Images

They may not have looked convincing for the entire 90 minutes, but Tottenham still managed to secure a 5-2 win over Southampton on Sunday afternoon.

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane were in inspired form for José Mourinho’s side. Son chipped in with four goals – all assisted by Kane – while the England captain also managed to bag one himself.

Just in case you were in any doubt over how impressive the pair’s performances were, these stats – lovingly curated by Opta – will leave you in no doubt of the duo’s brilliance.

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Kane registered five goal involvements against the Saints | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Kane’s one goal and four assists make him the first player to be directly involved in five goals in a Premier League game since Mo Salah in March 2018.

It’s not the first time that he’s registered a Premier League quintet either. Against Leicester back in May 2017, Kane racked up four goals and an assist.

The teammate he set up that day? Son, of course.

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Just two best friends celebrating their first win of the Premier League season | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Kane becomes only the sixth player to provide four or more assists in a single Premier League game. Bizarrely, the five that came before him all played for one of the two north London clubs.

For Arsenal, Dennis Bergkamp, José Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla have all registered a quadruple of assists, while the only Spurs player to do it before Kane is Emmanuel Adebayor.

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Son grabbed the match ball straight after the final whistle | ANDREW BOYERS/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Sunday marked the first time that one player had assisted a teammate four times in a Premier League match.

The closest we’ve had is the three hat tricks that have all been assisted by one player. Mike Newell laid on three goals for Alan Shearer in September 1995, while Stan Collymore repeated the trick to Robbie Fowler a few months later.

A more recent occurrence came in May 2003 when Thierry Henry assisted Freddie Ljungberg for a hat trick against Sunderland.

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The pair seem to have a telepathic connection on the pitch | Pool/Getty Images

Kane and Son once again proved that they are one of the most dangerous duos in the country against Southampton.

Ever since the South Korean arrived in the Premier League in August 2015, the pair have enjoyed a fruitful partnership – combining for 22 goals overall.

That’s more than any other two players during the same period. Impressive stuff.

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Overwhelming Individual Brilliance Papers Over Tottenham’s Systematic Flaws in Southampton Victory

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Son Heung-min scored four times in the 5-2 victory at Southampton, with Harry Kane providing all four assists | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Never before has the old ‘game of two halves’ cliché been truer than to summarise Tottenham’s 5-2 victory over Southampton on Sunday afternoon.

It’s quite remarkable as to how it happened.

This was a contest the Saints were totally in control of, with their early superiority rewarded by a superb Danny Ings strike just after the half-hour mark.

Jose Mourinho responded perfectly after being out-coached by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the opening periodJose Mourinho responded perfectly after being out-coached by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the opening period
Jose Mourinho responded perfectly after being out-coached by Ralph Hasenhuttl in the opening period | Pool/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho was starkly out-thought by his opposite number Ralph Hasenhuttl. While Spurs struggled mightily to sustain any sort of possession the hosts completely overwhelmed the visitors with their work on the ball, picking apart their initial 4-2-3-1 defensive structure at consummate ease.

Mourinho’s side simply couldn’t cope with the astute movement of inverted wingers Moussa Djenepo and Stuart Armstrong into their respective half-spaces, while Che Adams continued to find gaping pockets in behind the Lilywhites’ midfield, frequently offering the Saints a distinct route for progression up field.

Spurs looked all over the place. Overwhelmed by the speed and savviness of Southampton’s attacking play, they were fortunate to be just a goal behind. Adams, in particular – who impressed with his overall play – was a particular culprit for squandering ‘good’ opportunities.

Then came that sequence just before the break. The sequence spearheaded by a pirouetting Tanguy Ndombele which set the precedent for a second-half mauling.

The Frenchman’s work on the halfway line was awe-inspiring. Within a flash Ndombele received Ben Davies’ header, shrugged off the brutish Oriol Romeu like he was a 16-year-old making his first-team debut before displaying the innate brilliance that makes him such a unique – and special – footballer.

James Ward-Prowse was left in the dust by the 24-year-old’s magic and five seconds later, Son Heung-min was wheeling away in celebration. The first of just the four goals the South Korean scored on the south coast. The first of four he’d dispatch with such precision and conviction. The first of four he’d score because of a certain Harry Kane.

This is who Mourinho’s Spurs are. It’s not systemic – and rarely pretty – but instead, it’s completely reliant on the intuition of superb individuals. This was Mourinho’s Spurs in all their glory.

The same build-up and structural issues remained at the start of the second period before they started to settle in a 4-4-2 out of possession. A switch which markedly helped Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on his return to St. Mary’s. The Dane was superb in the second period.

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg enjoyed a fine afternoon after returning to a more familiar role | Pool/Getty Images

Nevertheless, the formation change handed Spurs more of a foundation to attack Southampton’s suicidal defensive line. There was undoubtedly a logic to Hasenhuttl’s proactive approach – Bayern Munich won the Champions League with the distance between their most advanced and deepest lines being about ten metres – and its benefits were laid bare in the opening period; condensing the space Spurs had to work between the lines and regularly catching the Lilywhites attackers offside.

But when the visitors’ backline and midfield were handed more time in possession as the effectiveness of the Saints’ press were mitigated in the second period, Son and co wreaked mayhem.

Kane embarked on his own Harlem globetrotter-like display after the restart, proving himself to be the most complete centre forward the game has to offer with some of the most sublime passing you’ll ever see from a number nine.

The Englishman was playing like his hero, a certain Tom Brady, with Son his Randy Moss. The pair combined as if they were playing for the 2007 New England Patriots.

While Hansi Flick has the quickest man on the planet not called Usain Bolt in Alphonso Davies and the nifty David Alaba to protect Bayern from succumbing to constant in-behind penetration, Hasenhuttl was relying on the slow-turning duo Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek.

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A Harry Kane masterclass | Pool/Getty Images

It’s no surprise that it got ugly quick, with Kane eventually getting himself on the scoresheet after he’d delivered a sumptuous four-course meal for partner in crime Son.

Nevertheless, while Spurs’ work in transition was nothing short of scintillating and their individual brilliance the major factor in Sunday’s triumph, the 5-2 scoreline undoubtedly papers over the distinct cracks laid bare in the opening period.

Not every week will Spurs have the luxury of facing such a high line and Mourinho simply can’t rely on the magic of his majestic attacking – and midfield – talents as the primary source of chance creation. It’s not sustainable.

The Southampton triumph certainly showed the potential of this Tottenham squad, one which is set to be bolstered by a former icon and an incredibly dynamic full-back.

They have the capacity to overwhelm teams, while Ndombele has the ability to bring about a greater sense of control in midfield with his press-resistance and unpredictability in the first and second phases.

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A fully fit Tanguy Ndombele solves a number of issues for Spurs in the build-up phase | Pool/Getty Images

It appears the perfect afternoon for the Lilywhite faithful but there was enough to suggest that Spurs are far from the finished article under Jose Mourinho.

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Southampton’s Understanding of Weakness Reason for Optimism Despite (Very) Heavy Spurs Defeat

Ralph Hasenhuttl
Hasenhuttl saw his side get battered having looked so composed. | Pool/Getty Images

How can you be positive about a team after that? Answer: with difficulty.

But we are going to look at the positives of this Southampton performance. We have to. Otherwise this is won’t make for great reading.

In order to avoid being brutally negative, we’re going to focus on the first 44 minutes. You’ll remember them, they were the ones where the Saints were winning.

In that period, they looked so assured of their roles. Embedded in the manager’s plans and up for the fight, they were by far the better side. What was key to note from their approach was their understanding of weakness. They knew where to hurt Tottenham, from what angle in and what manner.

That comes down to preparation and planning, something Ralph Hasenhuttl had clearly worked hard on in the build up.

Knowing Matt Doherty will venture more into a right wing-back/right midfielder role, this area was targetted by Moussa Djenepo and the overlapping runs of Ryan Bertrand. With Bertrand tucking infield to draw Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg out of position, Djenepo caused havoc.

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Djenepo was a livewire. | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

On top of that, the uncertainty in the Tottenham midfield was exploited too. Hojbjerg, Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Winks have not played together often enough, so Hasenhuttl instructed one of either Danny Ings or Che Adams to drop deep into the hole to gather possession.

Dividing this responsibility among themselves, they disrupted the centre-half duo of Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez, who couldn’t work out between them who would push up. These runs from the Saints forwards could have, and probably should have, brought more goals. Hugo Lloris made some key saves and Spurs were at sixes and sevens.

Dier’s lack of pace was key to their opening goal, with the ball in behind used effectively as Ings hovered in between the central defenders. Diagonal passes across the back four came in from the right hand side, and it looked like being just a matter of time before a second goal would come.

Taking advantage of other sides’ weaknesses adds panache to their productivity. In terms of work rate they can’t be faulted (at least for those 44 minutes), closing down the Spurs players on the ball and pressing in central areas through both Adams and Ings. Everything was going so well. How did it all unravel?

Naivety, that’s how.

Neither Jan Bednarek or Jack Stephens are quick. The full-backs either side are to some extent, but the two central defenders are borderline useless when they’re playing a high line against pace on the break. Sure, this approach can work if the midfield offer cover and can retain possession, but against someone as quick as Son Heung-min it’s tactical suicide.

They got away with it for most of the first half as the long balls Spurs were feeding the front men were directed toward Harry Kane, but as soon as Son moved centrally and became the outlet, they got torn apart.

FOUR TIMES.

Once, okay, you can learn your lesson, but it happened time and time again – I say four but those were just the times they conceded. Getting caught cold like that so frequently demonstrates a frailty that stems from naivety. Realising the danger and altering your shape to accommodate should be clear, but instead Southampton persisted and the centre-backs were left hanging out to dry.

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I don’t blame him for not looking. | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Finding a balance between their fresh, innovative attacking groove and offering adequate cover for when the opposition turning over possession should be the first, and probably only, point on Hasenhuttl’s checklist come Monday morning.

Solve that (big) issue and Southampton have reason to be optimistic.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!

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Luke Shaw Admits Manchester United ‘Need to Strengthen’ to Keep Up With Rivals

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Luke Shaw has sent a message to Ed Woodward & Co | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Luke Shaw has backed fans’ calls for more signings in the wake of Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace in their opening game of the 2020/21 campaign.

The Red Devils have only added versatile Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek to their ranks this summer amid protracted – and seemingly non-productive – negotiations with Borussia Dortmund in regards to Jadon Sancho, their priority target.

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Jadon Sancho shone in Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga opener against Gladbach on Saturday evening | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

United fans will be hopeful that their dire defeat against the Eagles will trigger a response from the club’s board in the transfer market. They have until 5 October to strengthen.

Left-back Shaw, meanwhile, was pretty damning in his assessment of the United squad, believing they have to strengthen if they’re to keep up with rivals.

“As I said, we have a very good group, but personally I think we need more players to strengthen the squad,” he told TV2 (via Manchester Evening News).

“It can give us a boost. When you look around at how other teams are strengthening their teams, then we must also do it to keep up with the others.”

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Shaw has encouraged more signings before the window closes on 5 October | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The rest of the top six have been very active in their bid to bolster their squads this summer.

Chelsea have splurged over £200m on a plethora of talent, champions Liverpool have completed the double signing of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota, while Tottenham remarkably re-signed former hero Gareth Bale.

United undoubtedly have a talented squad at their disposal but their incompetence in the transfer market could see them fall behind.

The club are reportedly still open to bolstering their defence via a new left-back and centre-back this summer, while 90min revealed on Saturday that they’ve been offered the chance to sign Watford winger Ismaila Sarr as their pursuit of Sancho continues to stall.

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Could Ismaila Sarr be United’s Sancho alternative? | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Porto’s Alex Telles appears to be the man to provide competition – or even usurp – Shaw at left-back, although there doesn’t appear to be any concrete links with a particular centre-half.

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