Chelsea close in on €60m deal for Jules Kounde but face competition from Barcelona

French defender has been a top target since last summer and would bolster a depleted defence

Jules Kounde is the subject of transfer speculation, with Chelsea and Barcelona both interested in his services. Getty
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Chelsea are close to agreeing a deal with Sevilla for French defender Jules Kounde but the Premier League club are expected to face competition from Barcelona, according to media reports.

Chelsea, who completed the signing of Senegalese centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly last week, are in the market for more defenders after the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

Kounde has been a top target since last summer, when Chelsea were unable to agree a fee with Sevilla, but the Blues are closer this time round to landing the 23-year-old France international. It is being reported that Sevilla could accept €60 million ($61.4m) for Kounde, €5m less than the buyout clause in his contract, while the player is understood to have agreed personal terms with Chelsea.

However, Chelsea will hope recent history does not repeat itself. The Premier League side have already been beaten by Barcelona to the signature of Brazilian winger Raphinha this summer, and the Spanish giants are also reportedly interested in Kounde, despite already spending a reported €110m on new players amid their well-documented financial problems.

Should Chelsea complete the signing of Kounde, who can play as a right-sided centre-back or at right-back, it could pave the way for captain Cesar Azpilicueta to leave the club, with Barca rumoured to be keen on the versatile Spaniard, although that might still depend on the Blues signing more defenders.

Chelsea train during pre-season tour

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is reportedly eager to add three more centre-backs to his squad and the club have held talks with Paris Saint-Germain for Kounde's international colleague Presnel Kimpembe, while recent reports claim the Blues could make an approach for RB Leipzig’s Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol. Both players could fill the left-sided centre-back position vacated by Rudiger, however advanced talks with Manchester City over Nathan Ake have collapsed.

Kounde came through the youth ranks at Bordeaux in France before joining Sevilla in 2019, winning the Europa League with the Spanish side in his first season. He has been capped 11 times by France and was part of the squad that won the 2021 Nations League.

Chelsea, who are in the United States for a pre-season tour, have completed two major signings so far, Koulibaly's €34m arrival from Napoli coming days after England forward Raheem Sterling moved from City.

100 major summer transfers so far

Updated: July 20, 2022, 6:19 AM