Kounde on decision to join Barcelona over Chelsea: 'I preferred Xavi's speech to Tuchel's'

By Sports Desk September 19, 2022

Jules Kounde opted to join Barcelona over Chelsea as he "preferred Xavi's speech" to Thomas Tuchel's.

The France international had looked set to sign for Chelsea during the most recent transfer window, only to put pen to paper on a five-year deal at Camp Nou.

Sevilla director of football Monchi suggested at the time that Barca pounced for Kounde after Chelsea had withdrawn their offer due to "having doubts".

However, in an interview with French outlet L'Equipe, Kounde insisted the decision was his own after being wooed by Barca head coach Xavi.

"First, I have come to a huge club, which has known good times and which, lately, has had less," he said.

"I come to a project that I would not call reconstruction, because we already have a competitive team, but rather, being upturned.

"I was interested in being part of this new wave, in search of titles, and to put Barca back where it has always been, among the best clubs. 

"Then there was the conversation with the coach. We talked about football. I felt a real confidence from him, that he had a real knowledge of myself, my game and my qualities.

"I spoke with Tuchel and I also felt that he wanted me to come, but I simply preferred Xavi's speech."

Chelsea have made a slow start to the 2022-23 season and recently brought an end to Tuchel's 20-month tenure.

Despite their high-profile financial issues, meanwhile, Barca have made a strong start to their campaign and are two points off LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after six matches.

Kounde was registered by Barcelona at the end of August, a month after joining, and has helped the Catalan giants to four clean sheets in his five appearances.

Indeed, the five clean sheets Barca have kept in their opening six league matches is a tally they did not reach until 21 games played last season.

And Kounde, one of two defenders alongside team-mate Alejandro Balde to have provided two assists in a single LaLiga match this term, believes he is well suited to Xavi's style.

"When I talked to Xavi he told me that my qualities correspond to his game plan, starting from the back, playing high, using my qualities of speed and anticipation," Kounde said. 

"He also wants an aggressive team – we are one of the teams that presses high.

"He saw me in this system and I too saw myself in this team that I saw make a pretty crazy rise in the table last season. 

"With Sevilla we were 15 points ahead of them in the middle of the season. Xavi arrived and I saw the changes he made and what direction he was going in. I liked it."

Related items

  • Cameroon v Brazil: Much-changed Selecao pursuing group-stage perfection Cameroon v Brazil: Much-changed Selecao pursuing group-stage perfection

    Tite will rotate his Brazil squad for their final Group G match, but opponents Cameroon still face an uphill battle to make the last 16 of the World Cup.

    Brazil are already through to the knockout stage and will top the pool unless they lose and Switzerland win with a significant goal swing.

    Opponents Cameroon have plenty still to play for, on the other hand, as they must win to have any hope of reaching the second round for the first time since 1990.

    They have never won their final group game at a finals, however, while Brazil are unbeaten at this stage in a record 17 matches.

    And the Selecao have their own goals in mind, looking to take nine points from a possible nine for the first time since 2006.

    "Being first is always the goal, regardless of who the opponent is in the next match," said Fabinho, one of the men set to come into the XI.

    "Our focus is always to win the games, try to earn nine points and give our best. 

    "Whoever will play will have the opportunity to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team in a World Cup, so the thought of a winning team has to always be this, to enter, give the best, win and be the first."

    Tite's first-choice stars have set a high standard, winning both games without conceding or even facing a single shot on target. They are the first team not to face a shot on target in their first two games at a World Cup since France in 1998.

    "Personally, I don't think [maintaining the standard] brings pressure to us," added Fabinho. "I think playing in a World Cup is every player's dream. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

    "We have to face this with great joy, knowing the responsibility, come in and give our best. We know the way the team plays, the team is solid defensively.

    "Sure, you have the worries of keeping that, the ideas, but I don't think it adds pressure. We don't feel that."

    Cameroon have lost only two World Cup matches to South American teams, but both have been in their two meetings with Brazil, who have won all seven of their finals clashes with African opposition, scoring 20 goals and conceding just two.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

    Aboubakar has twice appeared from the bench, yet he could hardly have done more to earn a starting berth. Against Serbia, he became the first substitute to both score and assist a goal in a World Cup match for an African nation, bringing Cameroon back from 3-1 down to 3-3 within 11 minutes of his introduction.

    Brazil – Vinicius Junior

    The Selecao may not need to risk playing Vinicius, with Neymar already injured, but it must be tough not to pick a man in this form. Only Kylian Mbappe (23) was involved in more open play sequences that ended with a shot than the winger (15) through two matchdays. Only Mbappe and Ismaila Sarr (four) created more chances following a carry (three).

    PREDICTION

    Even with the potential for changes in the Brazil XI, the supercomputer has no doubts about this one. Tite's men are massive 72.7 per cent favourites.

    Cameroon must win but are given only a 10.6 per cent chance, with a draw that would confirm Brazil as group winners rated at 16.7 per cent.

  • Croatia 0-0 Belgium: Red Devils eliminated in group stage as 2018 runners-up advance Croatia 0-0 Belgium: Red Devils eliminated in group stage as 2018 runners-up advance

    Belgium were eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage after drawing 0-0 with Croatia at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Thursday.

    Morocco's 2-1 victory over Canada elsewhere in Group F meant Belgium had to win to advance to the last 16, while Croatia needed to avoid defeat.

    A low-quality first half, in which the only talking point was an overturned Croatia penalty, made way for a far more gripping second period.

    Romelu Lukaku was brought on at half-time and squandered a few big chances, though ultimately the match finished goalless as Belgium suffered a shock early exit. 

    Belgium were given an early reprieve when a penalty awarded for Yannick Carrasco's challenge on Andrej Kramaric was overturned for offside against Dejan Lovren in the build-up as Luka Modric was lining up to take it.

    The arrival of Lukaku coincided with the game finally coming to life, the Inter striker forcing Dominik Livakovic into the first save of the contest a little over three minutes after coming on.

    That in turn sparked Croatia into life and Thibaut Courtois – on his 100th cap – made three saves in the space of four minutes to deny midfield trio Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric.

    Lukaku then hit the post with plenty of the net to aim for after Carrasco's blocked shot fell nicely in his path, before heading over from close range with the goal again gaping – though VAR may have intervened even if he had scored.

    The biggest miss was still to come as Lukaku failed to help the ball over the line from a couple of yards when Thorgan Hazard's cross was missed by Lovren, meaning elimination for Belgium and a second-place finish behind Morocco for Croatia.

  • Canada 1-2 Morocco: En-Nesyri secures top spot for Atlas Lions Canada 1-2 Morocco: En-Nesyri secures top spot for Atlas Lions

    Morocco became the first African team to top a World Cup group for 24 years after beating Canada 2-1 on Thursday.

    First-half goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri proved enough with Nayef Aguerd's own goal - the first of the tournament - nothing more than a consolation for a Canada side who return home without a point.

    Morocco must now wait for Thursday's Group E games to see who they will face in the last 16 at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.

    Walid Regragui's side needed just a point to guarantee a place in the knockout stages for only the second time, and first since 1986, and they were gifted a dream start after four minutes.

    Steven Vitoria’s backpass to Milan Borjan was a little short and the goalkeeper compounded the error with a heavy touch which fell nicely for Ziyech to chip the ball into an empty net from 25 yards.

    Canada looked vulnerable every time Morocco came forward and more naïve defending contributed to the second goal midway through the first half.

    Achraf Hakimi’s long ball from right-back exposed centre-half Kamal Miller and En-Nesyri ran on to it before firing under Borjan, who again should have done better.

    Having posed no attacking threat whatsoever, Canada halved the deficit five minutes before the break. Sam Adekugbe skipped past Hakimi down the left and his low cross was diverted goalwards by the toe of Aguerd with Yassine Bounou unable to keep it out at his near post.

    En-Nesyri thought he had restored Morocco’s two-goal advantage before the break, firing home after Canada had partially cleared Ziyech’s inswinging free-kick from the right but his effort was ruled out due to Aguerd blocking Borjan’s view from an offside position.

    Perhaps sensing the size of their achievement, Morocco went into their shell as the second half progressed.

    Alphonso Davies volleyed wide on the stretch before Canada came within inches of an equaliser after 71 minutes, 39-year-old substitute Atiba Hutchinson heading on to the underside of the bar with Alistair Johnston unable to bundle the rebound over the line.

    Morocco held on, though, and a goalless draw in the other pool game between Croatia and Belgium sparked wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle.

     

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.