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Exclusive Frank Leboeuf Interview: Kante should retire; Chelsea must sign Gvardiol; Cheslea’s season is over, they won’t finish in top 4 

Liam Solomon
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World Cup winner Frank Leboeuf has revealed to Safe Betting Sites on why he thinks Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante should retire after horrific injury and urges Chelsea to sign WC star Joško Gvardiol.

Leboeuf also said Arsenal could upset Gabriel Jesus with Cody Gakpo chase and why Zidane should replace Deschamps as France coach – in a wide-ranging interview.

If you would like to use the quotes from this interview, please credit Safe Betting Sites and link to https://www.safebettingsites.com.

Here are the key stories from the interview:

Full transcript:

Question: How do you rate Kylian Mbappe’s World Cup final performance?

Frank Leboeuf: “I would say that for an hour and 15 minutes I would rank his performance like all the France players that we saw on the field – very close to zero. But after that he did what great players do. They are capable of changing the spirit of the game and being exceptional. We haven’t seen a player scoring a hat-trick in a WC final since Geoff Hurst in 1966. So it’s a miracle. 

Even Pele never did it in a final. He did it in a semi-final against France in 1958. What’s also incredible is that Mbappe scored three penalties against a goalkeeper, who is maybe one of the biggest specialists at saving penalties. And he’s scored three out of three. So it was a great performance by Mbappe overall because you don’t score hat tricks every day. But in the final of the World Cup? My God! It’s not even a dream, it’s kind of a fantasy. So it’s great. I was pleased for him but so disappointed for him at the end of the game.”

Q: Where do you rank Lionel Messi on the list of all time greats now?

Frank Leboeuf: “He’s a great player and he definitely deserved to win the World Cup. Considering his career it’s something he’s certainly earned and I’m happy for him. I’m not happy for Argentina because of what they did after the game. I was saying good things about Emiliano Martinez before the final and I think he’s a great goalkeeper. But his behaviour? Oh, my God, grow up man! What are you doing in front of the world? Playing with your trophy. Are you stupid, or what? 

“And what the players did afterwards in the dressing room [singing about Mbappe]? Come on, the guy scored four goals against you. What are you teasing him for? So I’m happy for Lionel Messi. He was the only player who showed humility and showed respect towards the opponents. So what Otomendi and Paredes did… I’m not surprised about Paredes. I saw him playing for PSG, being absolutely crap and only being the sheriff of Neymar or Messi. But that’s the only thing he can do on the field. 

“So I’m happy for Argentina and their people because they’re suffering, and it’s great for the country. I have to respect the fact that they deserved to win. I saw fantastic performances from Romero, De Paul and Di Maria as well.

“Back to the original question of who is the GOAT. I think because if there can only be one it has to be Pele. He won the World Cup three times, the first time at the age of 17 years old. This was at the time, where you have no medical, no physical training sessions. The guy was simply a monster. He only played in Brazil so he couldn’t get the Ballon d’Or because it was only given to European players at that time. So I don’t even know how we can compare anybody else with Pele. Yes, Messi is a great player, as were Maradona and Platini and Johan Cryuff. But the greatest of the greatest in that position is Pele because he won it three times.”

Q: You predicted that Kante’s injury would prevent France from winning the World Cup? How much was he missed in the final? 

Frank Leboeuf: “I really think that if we had seen the best version of Kante, like 3 or 4 years ago, I think he would have taken care of Messi and it would have been a different game for sure. France became champions of the world four years ago because they had Kante in the middle of the park. It’s not that I want to diminish Rabiot’s and Tchouaméni’s performances, because they were great. But Kante is Kante. Or was Kante and I love the guy. I love his spirit. I love what he was offering, what he offered to Chelsea. I was half joking because it was a pun on Kante as in ‘can’t’ win the World Cup but his injury was definitely a huge blow.”

Q: Do you think Chelsea should be putting in more efforts to convince Kante to stay at the club?

Frank Leboeuf: “I haven’t spoken to him about his fitness and how he feels but it could be that he’s nearing the end of it [his career]. Because the thing is we have to understand that we are talking about a human being. Suddenly your body says okay, enough, leave me alone. The end of your career is also a part of your career, and you have to choose the right time to give up. Even if you don’t want to and even if your football is great and you want to carry on. 

“You have to give envy to people and not pity. So you have to make a decision in your own mind [regarding retirement]. You have to talk to your family and say maybe okay, it’s over. So I don’t know his shape but if he feels that he can serve Chelsea well then he should stay.”

Q: Do you believe the referee was looking for a reason to give Argentina a penalty in the final?

Frank Leboeuf: “No, no, no, I wouldn’t go there. I think the penalty was soft, but also the French penalty was soft too. I played in England, and in both situations it wouldn’t have been a penalty in my time. I think the referee made one mistake where he gave a free kick rather than playing advantage when France were attacking in extra time but otherwise there’s nothing to complain about.

“I was told that Argentina’s third goal should have been disallowed because the two substitutes stepped on to the pitch but that’s a stupid comment. They weren’t interfering in the game in any way. Yes France lost the game, and we are sad but don’t try to find any excuses. You don’t want to end up looking like a sore loser by making such complaints.”

Q: Would you have been tempted to start Saliba considering Varane was affected by the virus?

Frank Leboeuf: “I think Saliba would have played great had he been picked but it was impossible for Deschamps to drop Varane. A player will never say I’m not 100% fit for a World Cup final, even if that is the truth. It might be unfair on the team and on the country for him to play but Varane did well enough and it’s not because of him that we lost. Everybody was bad for an hour and 15 minutes. It was only fair to play Varane but Saliba will have his time very soon and he will be a leader in the centre of France’s defence for sure.”

Q: Were you concerned that Hugo Lloris would be outshone by Martinez if the game went to penalties?

Frank Leboeuf: “Definitely. Hugo did very well during the game. He made a fantastic save just before Messi scored the third but he’s not a penalty specialist. Martinez, however, is absolutely fantastic when it comes to penalties. I felt that it was already written. I always feel that the most experienced players should take the penalties. And to see Tchouaméni and Koman taking them I thought ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God!’. 

“Martinez played with Tchouaméni when he threw the ball away and made him go to pick it up. I would have gone to the spot and said I will wait for somebody to give me the ball. But overall Martinez is an exceptional goalkeeper. It’s crazy to see that he was a substitute for Arsenal for so many years. We can all see his talent now. I don’t like his behaviour but what a goalkeeper.”

Q: Argentina fans outnumbered France fans hugely in the final. What effect would that have had?

Frank Leboeuf: “I don’t think it affected the French players. They don’t care and they’re used to playing away games. In fact, being hated that much helps you to be better. It’s motivation to silence the fans that want you to lose. For the Argentina players it was different. It was like playing with a 12th man. They were effectively the home team. It did help us having that support when we won it in 1998 against Brazil but I don’t think it negatively affects the ‘away’ team.”

Q: Is time up for Deschamps now and who would you like to see replace him?

Frank Leboeuf:“The president of the French federation said to Deschamps that if he reached the semi-final he would have the right to decide whether he wanted to stay or not. He’s going to give his answer in January but I think he will stay and I think that’s fair. For me he could stay, because of what he did with the team. At first we thought France would not go far because of all the injuries that we had. No Benzema, Kante, Pogba or Lucas Hernandez. 

“So I think he did a great job. To reach the final was unexpected if we go back to a month ago. He is a winner and he wants to win the European Championship and I’m pretty sure that he’s gonna stay until at least the next Euros and after let’s see let’s see if Zinedine Zidane will take the job. I think it would be great to go from Laurent Blanc to Deschamps to Zizou. It’s great that so many players from the ‘98 team have embraced the role of being coach.”

Q: Where did it go wrong for England against France?

Frank Leboeuf: “Sometimes you do everything you have to do and it doesn’t work for you. I think England were better than France on the day and deserved to win. But sometimes it doesn’t turn out how you hope and that’s what it is. That’s accepting the game of football that it is not always the best team that wins.

“I agree with all the media in England and I understand the frustration that the English population felt, because I think England played better than France. But at the end of the day it’s all about the amount of goals that you score. I think with the squad that you have you can win a Euros or a World Cup, but you need to be fortunate and have luck with you.”

Q: Where do you foresee Kylian Mbappe playing his football next season?

Frank Leboeuf: “I don’t know how much he would cost Real Madrid because I think that’s the only place I can see him going. I don’t think Chelsa can compete for Mbappe and they will be getting Nkunku in the summer anyway from what I’ve heard. It was a perfect World Cup for Qatar having Messi and Mbappe in the final. Two PSG players going head to head. 

“Mbappe was born close to Paris, he plays his football in Paris, he earns millions of Euros per year and is the hero of his nation. Why would he want to leave? Yes admittedly Ligue 1 is not the best but neither is La Liga in terms of quality throughout the league below the top five. He wants to make history with PSG right now. He’s writing his history and hopefully that is going to include Champions League trophies alongside Messi. I don’t see him leaving. It’s too early for Qatar to let him go and don’t forget he just signed a new contract so the fans would be outraged if he left straight after.”

Q: Would Joško Gvardiol be an ideal signing for Chelsea this January?

Frank Leboeuf: “Yes, 100%. He is a great player. He was turned inside out by Messi in the semi-final for that great goal but that was partly Dejan Lovren’s fault for not helping him and also the mask he was wearing probably didn’t help either [laughs]. I know I’m making excuses for him but he’s a great defender, he had a great World Cup and if Chelsea can get him, I say to the club, “Yes thank you.”

Q: Should Chelsea bring in a striker because Armando Broja has been ruled out for the season?

Frank Leboeuf: “I think Chelsea’s season is effectively already over. They can’t win the title, they can’t compete with Manchester City that’s for sure. We have to respect Arsenal also even if I think Man City will finish top of the league. I don’t even see Chelsea finishing in the top four because of the way they were playing. I think we have to give time to Potter to rebuild something, and to correct all the errors that they made in terms of signing players.

“I won’t name names but for sure you have to get rid of some players in order to make room for others. And that’s what they must do next summer. Let’s call this season a blank season and prepare for next year with Nkunku, Gvardial and some others. Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram are both very talented players who play for good teams, but not top teams and if Chelsea can target those players, that would be great.

Q: Should Arsenal sign Cody Gakpo in the wake of Gabriel Jesus’ injury?

Frank Leboeuf: “Gakpo would be a good target. He had a fantastic World Cup. He’s young, he’s a great talent  and he represents the future of football. But there is always a dilemma when you want to replace somebody with a great player. When that injured player returns, what happens then? Does he go straight back into the team in place of the new signing?

“So if you sign Gakpo and put him in competition with Gabriel Jesus, who then finds himself back in the situation he was in at Man City. Maybe you risk upsetting him and the dressing room? But equally maybe he is not going to worry. But it is also possible that he’s gonna be unhappy because he was playing great before his injury.

“It could be dramatic at the end of the day. So you have to believe that Mikel Arteta and the Arsenal board have already thought through the pros and cons but will have to be 100% sure that Gakpo can be good for the team in the squad before they try to sign him. It’s a tricky balance that’s the problem.”

Q: Would you rather see Moises Caicedo or Youri Tielemans join Chelsea if Kante leaves?

Frank Leboeuf:“Chelsea needs somebody who knows how to defend in the middle of the park. Jorginho is not that type of player. He is great at distributing the ball. Kovacic is a very good player and should stay but you have to find somebody else. I’m not seeing anybody who is capable of doing the offensive part of what Kante was doing while also offering the defensive part of Kante’s game.

“I don’t know if Caidedo or Tielemans are truly capable of doing that. They are both great players but I don’t know if they are on Kante’s level. Tielemans can bring the ball offensively and score great goals but I’m not sure he can be the type of dogged player Kante was when you need to chase and win the ball back. You have to find someone like Casimiro, or Didier Deschamps or Patrick Vieira. They are the type of player that I like, because they have everything.”

Q: Have you heard about David Fofana being linked to Chelsea?

Frank Leboeuf: “I don’t know much about him but I was told he could be a great striker in the future and for sure he must have potential to be linked with Chelsea aged 19. But don’t forget Broja is going to be back next season. So do you sign Fofana to be the backup for the backup and admit that he’s basically never going to play?

“So that’s going to be the question from his agent. Okay, so Nkunku comes in the summer. If he comes, my player is not going to play. Then Broja comes back and will be ahead of Fofana. So where does that leave my player? Going out on loan? Probably.”

Q: Will World Cup fatigue have an impact later on in the season for players who went deep into the tournament?

Frank Leboeuf: “Yes, definitely. Normally big teams have to have large squads to make sure that you can rest some other players. It is what it is. If you have top players you have to accept the fact that they will go far in competitions. Kovacic for example reached the 3rd/4th place playoff. Potter will need to rest the players so they are fresh when you need them in big games.

“When I won the World Cup I think I played more than 60 games, and I never thought about ‘Am I tired? No.’ I wanted to play and I was 30 years old. So players are happy to play as long as they rest they can play every three days. They won’t care too much about training sessions. Remember when Messi was 25 he was playing every game. He never complained, he always wanted to play and you could see how much he loved it.”

Q: Chelsea face Man City twice in three days in early January. What are your predictions for those games?

Frank Leboeuf: “I don’t think the Premier League game will go well for Chelsea but in the FA Cup they could have more of a chance. Manchester City don’t like being pressed intensely and that’s what Chelsea will need to do if they want to have a chance. When you upset them and strangle De Bruyne they don’t play at their best. 

“If you let them play their game, their boring Tiki Taka football which is very effective, they’re going to score at some point and they’re going to kill you. But again, you have to upset them by chasing them and playing very high up the field and taking risks.”

Q: Would you take Gareth Southgate as the next Chelsea manager if Graham Potter gets sacked?

Frank Leboeuf: “No. I want to see Mr. Potter given more time. This is the first time in a long time Chelsea have employed someone who’s not coached at the top level – with all due respect. This is not somebody who has already won the Champions League before coming to Chelsea. I like that they’ve given an English coach a chance. He proved at Brighton that he knows how to deal with the players. So give him the time to prove himself. Yes it has not been perfect so far but it’s not been an easy transition for Mr Potter, but give him time to be judged. 

“I remember Gareth Southgate not being very nice to me when I came to Chelsea. The media were nice to me and said that for the first time they could see a sweeper being able to play with the ball. And Southgate made a comment when we lost against Liverpool that he was happy that even with a very good sweeper we had been smashed by the Reds. I’m not resentful, but that comment wasn’t worth it in my view. If the media decided to like me, that was because of my football, and not because of me. I had a very good relationship with Tony Adams. They never mentioned that. I still respect Gareth Southgate, and I think he should stay as a coach, because he does very well with the national team. I don’t want to see him at Chelsea right now, but maybe one day.”

Liam Solomon

Liam is a content writer for Safe betting Sites. He has 7 years of experience writing articles on trending topics including sports and finance. Liam has a passion for analysing trending data and has had his data shared in publications including New York Times, BBC and 1000's more.

Exclusive Frank Leboeuf Interview: Kante should retire; Chelsea must sign Gvardiol; Cheslea’s season is over, they won’t finish in top 4 
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