Barcelona have been in excellent form domestically this season. Following Sunday’s narrow 1-0 victory over Villarreal, Xavi Hernandez’s side sit 11 points clear of Real Madrid, albeit having played a game more.
The win against the Yellow Submarine also saw Barcelona keep their 15th clean sheet of the season in La Liga and after just 21 matches. It’s a remarkable statistic, especially when you consider that they have been playing without a natural right back for much of the season.
Having been signed from Sevilla last summer, Jules Kounde was brought in to primarily be a central defender, but the Frenchman has regularly played on the right side of defence instead, due to the lack of strength in depth in the position.
In an interview with TV3, Kounde reaffirmed that he would prefer to play as a centre back, but insisted that he will continue to play on the right for as long as he is needed to by Xavi.
“Everyone knows my preference. I am adapting to (right back). Now I have to play on the wing, but I do it for the team. There are games in which I enjoy more, and others in which I do less.”
Despite having played him out of position for much of his Barcelona career, the 24-year-old heaped praise on Xavi, and stated that his hunger for success has spread to the Barca squad.
“He transmits a lot of desire to the players. He is the leader of the team. Every day he wakes up hungry, with this ambition to play better and to win, win and win. It is seen at every moment, in team talks and in training.”
Kounde is likely to be played in his preferred position on Thursday when Barcelona take on Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie, with Ronald Araujo expected to be moved to right back.