Barcelona close to beating Chelsea to sign Jules Kounde


Barcelona are expected to beat Chelsea to the signing of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, for an estimated fee of around €50m plus €10m in variables.

It is understood that Barcelona head coach Xavi personally called Kounde to ask him to wait and that the Catalan club were interested in dropping him from their La Liga rivals.

Chelsea had hoped to finally secure a deal for the 23-year-old in this window, a year after failing to secure a transfer down the line last summer.

But despite confidence that a deal could be done during Chelsea’s recent tour of the United States, Koundé, who has been capped 11 times by France, has opted for a move to Barcelona.

They have already strengthened their backline this summer with the addition of Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel’s side, meanwhile, also lost Antonio Rudiger, who joined Real Madrid after his contract in west London ended and therefore needed defensive reinforcements.

But it is understood that Chelsea’s pursuit of other defensive targets, such as Matthijs de Ligt – who has since joined Bayern Munich from Juventus – and Manchester City’s Nathan Ake, sent a message that Kounde was not an absolute priority.

Kounde is believed to have been upset with the chill of interest from Chelsea this summer – after disagreements between Sevilla and the Stamford Bridge club 12 months ago saw the deal fall through.

Chelsea have already signed Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly in a deal worth €40m (£34.1m, $41m) and held transfer talks for Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe.

But Tuchel hit out at Chelsea players and the club’s transfer activity after a 4-0 pre-season thrashing by Arsenal, saying he had made an “urgent call for a large number of quality players”.

Barcelona have signed Raphinha, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Kessie, as well as Christensen, after activating economic ‘levers’ to give them leeway in the transfer market. Despite activating these levers, Barcelona still cannot register new signings with La Liga until they reach their salary cap.

Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign at Everton on August 6, while Barcelona start La Liga at home to Rayo Vallecano a week later.

(Photo: Getty Images)


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