Chelsea still covet the services of Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde and will pursue a deal for the Frenchman ahead of a summer move, 90min understands.
The Blues believed they had agreed a cut-price fee to sign Kounde last August, only to be stunned when the Spanish club increased their demands at the 11th hour. Chelsea refused to do business thereafter and the 23-year-old was forced to remain at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, despite having his heart set on the switch.
The emergence of academy product Trevoh Chalobah has filled the gap in head coach Thomas Tuchel’s squad since Kurt Zouma’s sale to West Ham. But Chelsea are still expected to move for a new centre-back with the futures of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta all uncertain as they enter the final six months of their respective contracts.
While other options such as Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Niklas Sule of Bayern Munich have been considered, 90min understands that Chelsea have come to the conclusion that Kounde remains the outstanding candidate and there is a belief within the club that he will join at some point in 2022.
Sevilla’s demands mean a January move for the defender is very unlikely, but the west Londoners are working to steal a march on any other potential suitors and agree a transfer before the summer window opens – the same approach they may adopt with Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.
Kounde has a £68m release clause inserted in his contract in Andalusia, and triggering it could become an option if the Blues want to avoid negotiating with Sevilla following their troubles last year.
Sources have told 90min that Kounde – who idolises current Chelsea player Thiago Silva – is unwavering in his desire to move to Stamford Bridge and he has reiterated that to his current employers.
The France international has continued to impress this season, playing an important role in keeping eight clean sheets in La Liga as part of a stingy backline, with Sevilla mounting the closest challenge to leaders Real Madrid.
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