Chelsea look set to miss out on Jules Kounde with the Sevilla defender in advanced talks to join Barcelona instead, according to reports in Spain.
The Frenchman has been Thomas Tuchel’s top transfer target for the best part of a year, with the west Londoners having agreed terms with the centre-back last summer only for the deal to collapse as Sevilla played hardball over a fee.
Chelsea were poised to make a second attempt to sign the 23-year-old this summer, having lost both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers.
But now Catalunya Radio are reporting that Barcelona have gazumped Chelsea and talks are at an advanced stage, with the Spanish giants having agreed a deal in principle with Sevilla.
Barca will pay around €60million (£51.6m) and have agreed to include one player in part exchange, though they have yet to decide which player to swap.
Sergino Dest is one option, though Barca were hoping to use him as part of a deal with Bayern Munich for Robert Lewandowski, while Trincao and Clement Lenglet are also being considered.
Interestingly, Kounde will likely line up alongside Christensen, with the Denmark international having agreed a pre-contract with Barca – though the deal has yet to be announced as the Spanish side still need to iron out their finances.
That process will also hold up a deal for Kounde, though there is confidence that Barcelona do have the requisite funds required to wrap up both deals for the two centre-backs as well as sign Lewandowski.
There have been significant question marks over the future of Gerard Pique, with Xavi reportedly telling his former teammate he is surplus to requirements, and Kounde’s looming arrival could now see the veteran defender moved on.
Kounde underwent surgery on a groin problem on Tuesday and, despite requiring up to six weeks on the sidelines, the injury is not thought to be serious and will not affect Barcelona’s deal.
Barca’s swoop for Kounde is an enormous blow to Chelsea – who were already playing catch up in the transfer market following the sanctions imposed on them – and will require them to re-think their rebuild of the defence.
Tuchel had wanted the Sevilla man to line up on the right side of his back three and is also in need of a new left-sided centre-back too, with RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol the top target for that role.
Photo Credit: Getty