Kante returns from wilderness as Deschamps announces France Euro squad

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World champion N'Golo Kante will make a surprise return to international football as France coach Didier Deschamps announced Thursday the 25 players that will make up the French squad at Euro 2024.

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Kante left English side Chelsea last summer to join Saudi club Al Ittihad and has not represented France since June 2022. "He played a full season (Kante struggled with injury during his time with Chelsea), albeit not in a European league, as he is in Saudi Arabia," said Deschamps on French TV channel TF1.
"He's back to full fitness. With his experience, I'm convinced that the French team will be stronger with N'Golo Kante." The 2018 World Cup winner was the big surprise in Deschamps' squad, but the 33-year-old's experience will doubtless be a help to youngsters Warren Zaire-Emery and Bradley Barcola, who also made the squad after fine seasons at Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Winger Barcola, 21, is the only uncapped player in the squad but forced his way in with a strong finish to the season, impressing particularly with his performances in the knock-out stages of the Champions League against Real Sociedad and Barcelona.
Also making a return to the international fold is Real Madrid defender Ferland Mendy, who has not played for France since September 2022, but has been a regular this term for his club who are on course to complete a Spanish league-Champions League double. Star attacker Kylian Mbappe was also included in the squad, as were Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Arsenal defender William Saliba.
Mbappe comes into the tournament in fine form, despite uncertainty about where he will play his football next season after confirming he would leave PSG this summer. The France captain has scored 44 goals so far this season and can add to that tally in his team's remaining Ligue 1 match and the French Cup final.

After a stunning breakthrough season at PSG, Zaire-Emery earned his first call-up in November of last year, marking the occasion with a goal in a 14-0 rout of Gibraltar. "Very happy to be on the list, it's one of the best competitions to play with France and I'm very happy and proud to represent my country," said Zaire-Emery via video link on TF1.
The 18-year-old added that he had been granted a special dispensation to sit his final school exams later in order to perform at his best at the Euro during the summer. "I asked to be able to do it in September to be calm and focussed on football," said Zaire-Emery. Aurelien Tchouameni, who is a doubt for June's Champions League final, Mike Maignan and Kingsley Coman all made the squad despite currently carrying injuries.
PSG's Lucas Hernandez missed out after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee in May. After defeat in the final at home in 2016 and a disappointing early exit in 2021, France come into Euro 2024 among the pre-tournament favourites to win a third European Championship after victory in 1984 and 2000.
France will begin their Euro campaign in Germany on June 17 against Austria, before taking on the Netherlands four days later and completing their group-stage matches against Poland on June 25.

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham/ENG), Mike Maignan (AC Milan/ITA), Brice Samba (Lens)
Defenders: Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich/GER), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER)
Midfielders: N'Golo Kante (Al Ittihad/KSA), Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid/ESP), Warren Zaire-Emery (Paris Saint-Germain), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco)
Forwards: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Bradley Barcola (Paris Saint-Germain), Ousmane Dembele (Paris Saint-Germain), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Marcus Thuram (Inter Milan/ITA), Randal Kolo Muani (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA)

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