Jules Koundé: Missing piece of Barcelona’s defense?

The Signing all Barca fans wanted

Jules Olivier Koundé is officially a player for Football Club Barcelona, yes, let that sink in! The French center-back is the most vital addition for the Catalans considering their defensive problems over the past few years. Jules Koundé has signed on a five-year deal until June 2027 with a release clause of 1 Billion Euros. The official amount for the transfer hasn’t been revealed, but according to the sources of ESPN, it is around 55 million Euros plus add-ons.


About Jules Koundé

Koundé started in his first team debut for Bordeaux in the 2-1 Coupe de France away loss to US Granville in the round of 64 on 7 January 2018, playing the full 90 minutes of average time and the full 30 minutes of extra time. He started in his Ligue 1 debut for Bordeaux in a 1-0 away win over Troyes on 13 January 2018. On 10 February 2018, Koundé scored the opening goal of a 3–2 Ligue 1 home win over Amiens; it was his first career Ligue 1 goal and his first competitive goal for Bordeaux’s first team.

On 3 July 2019, he signed for Spanish club Sevilla. The transfer fee paid to Bordeaux was reported as €25 million. In his first season at Sevilla, he helped the club win the UEFA EUROPA League for a record sixth time and was named in the competition’s team of the season.

On 18 May 2021, Koundé was selected by Dilder Deschamps as part of the 26 players that formed the France National Team for the UEFA EUROPA League. He made his debut on 2 June 2021 in a friendly against Wales. On 10 October 2021, Koundé started in France’s win over Spain in the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.

The Transfer Story

The Blaugrana beat the Blues for the second time after Raphinha to- sign center-back Jules Koundé. Sevilla’s sporting director, Monchi, has revealed the course of negotiations that took place and how Barcelona beat Chelsea to snatch away the French defender.

The Sevilla chief suggested that while they were in advanced talks with Chelsea over a possible transfer last week, the player himself had a verbal agreement to join the Blues. Everything was closed and a good offer was on the table, but then Chelsea hesitated and decided to wait, as they had a few doubts about the movement that would have caused in their squad, and if the type of player that they needed was actually a profile like Jules Koundé or someone else.

That’s when Barcelona swooped in, and Mateu Alemany (their sporting director) contacted Sevilla and conveyed their interest in the player. After Sevilla demanded an offer from him, Barcelona proposed one initially which was lower than their expectations, but then bettered it which was agreed upon by both the parties, and the deal was closed. Barca coach Xavi Hernandez also played a key role in the transfer as his personal efforts to convince the player paid off.

So what does Koundé bring to the Barca backline?

Koundé is a central defender with a more natural right-sided positional play on the field. He is sufficiently agile, athletic, and gifted that he can even play at right-back. The short-heighted player can exhibit great strength when challenging for the ball and his speed gives him the edge while chasing the balls in the individual duels. Known for making lengthy, lung-busting runs, he has a powerful leap that helps him in winning aerial battles, a valuable trait at both ends of the pitch. If given space to build a play, he is confident enough on the ball to accelerate the game forward quickly, an important quality that Barcelona will be more than happy to add to the squad.

He consistently executes changing plays with medium and long-range passes with excellent success. His passes enable his teammates to quickly switch positions against their opponents. Koundé can do this by avoiding his center-back partner and occasionally the appropriate full-back in order to pass the ball directly to the winger. Similarly, while facing a high press, he may use long, direct passes over the defense to find a teammate in the open area behind the opposition.

Although he is much more at ease with his right foot than his left, he will not hesitate to play long or short passes with his left foot under pressure. Regardless of his willingness to challenge for the ball, Koundé doesn’t concede many fouls, and he is very rarely booked, largely because he prefers not to go to the ground and instead attempts to steal the ball while on his feet.

His intelligence extends to his tactical understanding; he makes sound decisions, based on the whereabouts of his teammates, as to when to step out and engage an opponent. He is also a physically capable defender who blocks crosses and shots effectively.

How does Koundé fit in the defense?

One of the key issues that had to be addressed for FC Barcelona was their defense. With the rise of Uruguayan sensation Ronald Araújo and the signings of Andreas Christensen and Jules Koundé, the backline of the Catalans seems already improved with the ever-impressive Marc-André Ter Stegen in goal. Ronald Araújo stood out with his hugely impressive displays but did not always receive adequate support from his teammates.

Gerard Pique had his ups and downs while Eric Garcia’s debut season back in Catalonia was hardly anything to write about. Gerard Pique has been a wonderful servant for Barcelona over the years and will go down as an absolute legend. However, at 35, he is very much in the final phase of his career and the Catalans needed to start phasing him out and putting in place a succession plan for the veteran.

Pique had some exceptional performances last season, but he was bogged down by chronic injuries towards the end of the campaign, which raised further concerns on whether he can be relied upon by the manager ahead of the new season.

Given the situation, the time seemed right for Barcelona to move on from the old guard and usher in a new era, with Koundé set to take over as Pique’s heir.

Speaking of a new era, both Koundé and Ronald Araújo are just 23 years of age and can become mainstays at the heart of the Barça backline for a long time and forge a formidable partnership. While the pair are similar in some aspects of their games, they also provide contrasting attributes to the table. Araújo’s aggressive defending, coupled with Koundé’s technical ability, could make for an exciting partnership.

Araújo and Koundé are excellent at applying pressure on their opponents. They know when to pursue pressuring the opponent and when to refrain from pressing in order to preserve the defensive structure.

Christensen is a center-back and is known for his calmness in possession and precise passing, as well as his aerial dominance. Christensen can blend in the center-back position with his experience around the new blood of the Araújo-Koundé alliance.

Managing the defense

According to Fabrizio Romano’s report, Xavi feels that Araújo and Koundé can evolve as strong center-back partners for the club. Both these footballers are also useful as right-backs. It adds another good option for the team. Though Araújo is strong in handling the attackers, his ball-playing abilities still need some improvement, especially in pressure situations. The Uruguayan is learning the game really well, so the Barca fans can expect stronger performances from him as time progresses.

On the other hand, Koundé has the stronger defensive ability as he is a confident center-back. His passing ability is excellent, and he has a good record of aerial duels. As Sir Alex Ferguson had said, “Attacks win you games, defense wins you titles”, can the major title drought for FC Barcelona end this season with their new look defense and a bolstering attack?

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Chaitya Shah

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