Chelsea chasing €80 million-rated Sevilla defender

Jules Kounde saw a long-mooted transfer to the Blues fall apart last summer.

Jules Kounde (file pic).
Jules Kounde (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

JULES KOUNDE has paved the way for a move to Chelsea this summer by telling Sevilla he remains determined to leave the Spanish club, the PA news agency understands.

France defender Kounde saw a long-mooted transfer to Chelsea fall apart last summer after Sevilla refused to let the highly-rated centre-back leave for less than his €80 million release clause.

Chelsea thought they had a deal wrapped up, only for Sevilla to dig in at the last with the switch falling through just before the summer’s transfer window closed.

Antonio Rudiger’s impending free transfer move to Real Madrid leaves Chelsea requiring senior central defensive reinforcement, however.

Andreas Christensen’s summer Barcelona switch adds further urgency to the Blues’ situation, though highly-rated teen defender Levi Colwill could stake a claim to join the senior squad in pre-season.

Chelsea cannot make any new signings or complete fresh contract terms with existing players under the club’s UK Government sanctions.

The club’s sale should be complete next month, however, allowing Chelsea bosses to revert to business as usual.

Chelsea have lost clear ground in the transfer market due to the club’s licensing constraints as a result of the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich.

But Stamford Bridge chiefs still hope to be able to compete in the summer’s transfer window, leaving Kounde among the club’s top targets.

Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi gave a deadline-day press conference on August 31 last summer, unravelling in detail how 23-year-old Kounde’s Chelsea move collapsed.

Chelsea have never let their interests in the nine-cap France defender wane and will be expected to step up efforts to recruit the centre-back once the club’s sale is complete.

Kounde was frustrated by Sevilla blocking his Chelsea move last year, but has still delivered on the field, with Julen Lopetegui’s side sitting third in La Liga.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel confirmed Rudiger’s decision to leave Chelsea this summer on Sunday, after the 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had offered Rudiger a contract that would have made him the highest-paid defender in the club’s history, before the Government sanctions.

The Germany defender has handled his contract negotiations with respect and professionalism though, leaving Chelsea retaining the highest regard for the 29-year-old.

Tuchel admitted after the West Ham clash that Rudiger would be “incredibly difficult” to replace, but the Blues will be determined to lose as little time as possible in that task.

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England U21 centre-back Colwill has starred on loan at Huddersfield this season and the 19-year-old should have a chance to impress boss Tuchel in pre-season.

The Blues will doubtless want an imposing presence to ease the loss of the talismanic leader Rudiger has become though, so a signing of the calibre of Kounde remains important.

Chelsea’s last-gasp win over West Ham on Sunday moved the Blues a step closer to a third-placed finish.

Christian Pulisic’s last-minute strike settled some frayed nerves after an edgy contest, with Jorginho missing a penalty with just four minutes left on the clock.

“It was a massive goal; we had so much pressure on them for most of the game but we couldn’t get that breakthrough so I’m happy I was able to help out,” Pulisic told Chelsea’s club website.

“I always want to be on the pitch, to help my team and I am glad I got the opportunity. I needed to come in and make a difference, prove I want to be playing and I am happy I did that.” 

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