France coach Deschamps includes Kanté, Barcola in Euro squad

France coach Didier Deschamps included midfielder N’Golo Kanté in his preliminary list of players for the European Championship on Thursday and gave a first call-up to Paris Saint-Germain forward Bradley Barcola.

Kanté’s return was not expected following the former Chelsea player’s departure to the lucrative Saudi league last summer after he struggled with injuries. The 2018 World Cup winner has not played for France since June 2022.

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Deschamps said Kanté has rediscovered his form at Al-Ittihad.

“He has had a full season, albeit not in a European league as he plays in Saudi Arabia, where he has regained his full physical fitness,” Deschamps said as he announced his squad on French TV channel TF1. And I think that with his experience and his background, I’m convinced that our team will be stronger with him.”

In contrast, Barcola’s presence in the squad was widely expected following his excellent season with PSG.

After joining from Lyon, the 21-year-old winger with excellent speed and dribbling skills has settled quickly at the star-studded club. He delivered at big games and was the main reason PSG managed to get past Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Real Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy, who has not played for France since September 2022, also makes his return.

PSG defender Lucas Hernández, who recently underwent surgery after rupturing his left ACL, was left out.

Deschamps can still amend his squad before a June 7 deadline when teams must give UEFA a list of a minimum of 23 players and a maximum of 26.

The tournament in Germany starts June 14. Two-time champion France is in Group D with Austria, Netherlands, and Poland.

Before traveling to Germany, the World Cup finalist will play two warmup matches against Luxembourg and Canada.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Brice Samba (Lens)

Defenders: Jonathan Clauss (Marseille), Theo Hernández (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool), Jules Koundé (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Benjamin Pavard (Inter Milan), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich).

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), N’Golo Kanté (Al-Ittihad), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus Turin), Aurélien Tchouaméni (Real Madrid), Warren Zaïre-Emery (PSG).

Forwards: Bradley Barcola (PSG), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembélé (PSG), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Randal Kolo Muani (PSG), Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Marcus Thuram (Inter Milan).

ESPN writer Julien Laurens contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was also used.