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France favourites to win Euro 2020 with Ballon d’Or-worthy N’Golo Kante more important than Kylian Mbappe, says Petit


EMMANUEL PETIT can’t see many comparisons between the current French squad and the team he played in 20 years ago – and thinks N’Golo Kante is their best player.

The ex-Arsenal star was part of the side that won the World Cup and Euros back-to-back – a feat Didier Deschamps’ team can also achieve at this summer’s tournament.

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Emmanuel Petit has backed France to win Euro 2020

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Emmanuel Petit has backed France to win Euro 2020
The ex-Arsenal midfielder was part of the France squad that won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000

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The ex-Arsenal midfielder was part of the France squad that won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Speaking at the launch of the Paddy Park at Flat Iron Square in London, Petit compared the two fabulous teams.

He told SunSport: “I don’t see many similarities, on the pitch and off the pitch.

“It’s not the same world anymore; it’s not the same football; it’s not the same communication. Everything has changed so much in the space of 20 years.

“The only similarity is that they’ve won the World Cup and they can do the same as we did 20 years ago.”

Although Petit doesn’t think the two sides are similar, he does believe Kylian Mbappe and co can follow in his footsteps and win the Euros.

The 63-cap international also praised Deschamps for rejuvenating the team after a group of players publicly fell out with French authorities at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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He said confidently: “We are the team to beat.

“Deschamps took over after the big scandal in South Africa and straight away the team has been going up.

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Petit believes N'Golo Kante, 30, is the 'soul' of the French team

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Petit believes N’Golo Kante, 30, is the ‘soul’ of the French teamCredit: EPA

“Quarter-final in 2014, final in 2016, world champion in 2018 – the expectation is very high here in France because of what they’ve done in the past but also the team and the individuals.

“Deschamps has the luxury of putting out two teams that are similar, in terms of talent. He can do whatever he wants; he has so many options up front, in midfield and behind as well.

“The only position where he doesn’t have much of an option is probably the goalkeeper, but for the rest, there is no comparison with what we had 20 years ago.

“We probably had 25 good players but that’s it. This generation there’s probably 50 players.”

And of all the talent Deschamps has at his disposal, Kante is the player Petit is most fond of.

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The Chelsea midfielder has enjoyed a sensational rise since moving to England in 2015, winning the FA Cup, Europa League, World Cup, Champions League and two Premier League titles.

Petit said: “If he has a great European tournament, he should get this personal prize [the Ballon d’Or].

England boast the most-valuable squad of all Euro 2020 nations
England boast the most-valuable squad of all Euro 2020 nations

“I think he deserves it, for what he’s done in the last five or six years.

“He’s a great lad; great humility; great character on the pitch. When you play with him in your team, you play with 12 players.

“I would have loved to have played with him – to play with him and Patrick [Vieira] in midfield.

“I think we would have been best friends on the pitch because we talk the same football, we give everything for the team and we don’t care about our [individual] performances – we want the team to win.

“For me, Kante is the soul of the national team.

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“When you ask people in the street, ‘Who is the best player in the national team?’ They will always say, ‘Mbappe or Benzema or Griezmann.’

“But for me – in this team – it’s Kante.”

Emmanuel Petit was speaking at the launch of the Paddy Parks, the ultimate fan viewing experience for all EURO 2020 games. Held at Flat Iron Square and Riverside Newcastle, tickets will sell out fast – visit www.paddyparkfanzones.com to book your spot.

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