September 18, 2021

Sevilla’s Kounde inspired by Real Madrid’s Benzema and Liverpool’s Mane

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Despite being a defender, the player of Benin descent looks up to attackers for inspiration

Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde has mentioned the names of Real Madrid and Liverpool forwards Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane as his idols while growing up.

This might come as a surprise from a defender but the 21-year-old Franco-Beninese explains he was an attacking player earlier in his career.

Benzema played a pivotal role towards Los Blancos winning a 34th La Liga title, scoring 21 goals in 37 games while Mane netted 18 goals as the Reds lifted their first league crown since 1990.

“There are players that I like in many positions. I love football. I really like Benzema, Mane from Liverpool … It’s funny that they are all attackers,” Kounde told AS.

“I always liked to attack, I think that part comes from the Under-17’s in Bordeaux. When I see a space, I like to attack it. At Sevilla, we have a game where we can do that, and the coach likes it.

Kounde has attracted the interest of Real Madrid, however, he states he is focused on playing for Sevilla and winning the Europa League.

“It’s always good that there are clubs like Real Madrid that follow you, but I’m very focused on Sevilla, I want to win this cup [Europa League],” he continued.

“It’s the only thing in my head and that of the team. I’m not interested in Madrid.”

Kounde stands at 181cm in height which is considered not tall enough for a centre-back. The former Bordeaux player has admitted he is not deterred by it, citing playing smart as the most important factor.

“I always had a good jump. I know that there are many people who, when seeing a 1.81 centre-back, are wondering how the aerial game will solve it when it comes to a big striker,” he said.

“That also happened to me in Bordeaux. At the end of my training, I played right back because a coach looked at me like that, too short. But it doesn’t scare me to go upside down, it’s one of my strengths indeed.

“For me, height is not just a matter of centimetres. The most important thing is to play smart. If we listen to many people, Cannavaro could not have played as a central defender in his life, and he ended up achieving a Ballon d’Or, he played for Real Madrid. You have to change that view that you always have to be tall in this position, or very strong.”