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Nathan Ake, Kurt Zouma receive surprise national team call-ups

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Despite not playing a big role at Chelsea this season, young defenders Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma were both called up today by their respective national teams for the round of friendlies and World Cup qualifiers set to be played after the league season ends and before summer vacations begin.

Having been capped over 50 times by various Dutch international youth teams (U16-21), this is Ake’s first ever call from the senior international team, although it is only a preliminary selection. While he has barely featured for Chelsea in the second half of the season, it is perhaps no coincidence that he receives this call barely two weeks after media reports of him possibly choosing to play Cote d’Ivoire instead, where his father was born. Either way, congrats to Nathan, who joins Chelsea loanee Marco van Ginkel in the 31-man squad. The final selection will be announced next week.

Meanwhile, France call up a Chelsea pair as well, with N’Golo Kante joined by Kurt Zouma in their expanded squad ahead of the three-match slate of this extended international round. Given Zouma’s rusty performances since returning from his ACL injury, the call-up is a bit of a surprise, but welcome nonetheless. Congrats to him as well!

The Netherlands will play friendlies against Morocco (May 31) and, ironically enough, Cote d’Ivoire (June 4) before taking on lowly Luxembourg in the a World Cup qualifier (June 9). France will also play two friendlies, against Paraguay (June 2) and England (June 13), which sandwich a World Cup qualifier against Sweden (June 6).