There were heartwarming scenes at France’s training camp on Tuesday as Didier Deschamps’ players and staff joined in congratulating N’Golo Kante, Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud on their Champions League triumph with Chelsea.
Kante has been in outstanding form for both club and country in recent months and helped Chelsea defeat Manchester City with a sublime display at the heart of the midfield as Kai Havertz’s strike steered Thomas Tuchel’s men to European glory in Porto last weekend.
Zouma and Giroud, meanwhile, were left as unused substitutes at the Estadio do Dragao but their performances across Chelsea’s European and domestic campaign were enough to see them included in Deschamps’ 26-man France squad when it was announced last month
All three will be desperate to impress ahead of this summer’s European Championships, where Les Bleus have been placed in what has been dubbed the ‘group of death’ along with holders Portugal, Germany and Hungary.
The reigning world champions have been preparing for the first of their two warm-up matches against Wales this evening and Kante, Zouma and Giroud were pictured reporting for duty on Tuesday.
Given their delayed arrival, France’s Chelsea contingent are unlikely to feature in Nice but their popularity and importance within Deschamps’ party was clear to see as they were reunited with their team-mates.
A warm welcome at France's training base for their returning Chelsea contingent
So much love and respect for N'Golo Kante 🇫🇷💙pic.twitter.com/PgEpDdGK3s
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) June 2, 2021
There were warm embraces and handshakes all round as the trio were applauded on their efforts in the Champions League, with the likes of Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Antoine Griezmann and Benjamin Pavard passing on their congratulations.
A delighted Deschamps was seen interrupting Zouma’s catch-up with Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko to give the defender a giant bear hug.
France are the bookmakers’ favourites to win this year’s Euros and can be backed at 5/1 to come out on top, with England also viewed as firm contenders to lift the trophy.
Speaking to French publication RMC earlier this week, Deschamps hailed Kante as a ‘very, very great player’ but played down the midfielder’s Ballon d’Or prospects given his playing style.
‘Kante remains a very, very great player who potentially deserves this award,’ the France head coach said.
‘I do not know if it is accessible for a player who is not creative, who does not score much.
‘He can score a few goals and put together a few assists but as a general rule…
It has happened, there was Fabio Cannavaro or others back then, like Matthis Sammer.
‘But as a general role, in the majority of cases, it is attributed to a creative player.’