Report: Chelsea 'cool' interest in 23-year-old in favour of high-profile option
Chelsea have cooled their interest in Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and shifted their attention to Juventus’ Matthijs De Ligt, in whom Thomas Tuchel is interested, according to Sport.
Kounde was expected to join Chelsea, with whom he reportedly already had personal agreements, this summer.
The only thing missing, according to the Spanish outlet, was an improved bid from Chelsea, who saw their €50million (almost £43m) rejected by Sevilla a year ago.
Sevilla are reportedly looking for a deal worth €65m (£56m) for the France international.
De Ligt’s reportedly asking to leave Juventus, however, has apparently caught Tuchel’s attention, which then led to Chelsea’s cooling their interest in Kounde.
While unlikely, the Blues could obviously try to sign both De Ligt and Kounde this summer — after Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen’s exits — but they could lose out on the latter due to their slow approach.
Sport claims that Barcelona are getting closer to signing Kounde, having already approached both Sevilla and the player’s representatives.
Xavi Hernandez is said to be a big admirer of the centre-back, but Sevilla’s asking price is also a problem for Barcelona.
Barcelona have reportedly tried to offer a swap deal plus cash and a loan with an obligation to buy after a year, which both reportedly failed to satisfy Sevilla, but are expected to raise their offer.
Chelsea in tricky situation in transfer race for Kounde
It is unclear whether Chelsea’s reported maneuver is down to Tuchel’s preferring De Ligt over Kounde, but the obvious need for new centre-backs put them at a disadvantage any transfer negotiations.
De Ligt still has two years left in his contract with Juventus, and La Gazzetta dello Sports recently claimed that Juventus are not interested in listening to offers significantly below the defender’s €120m (£103.3m) release clause.
The Blues have a number of players, including Timo Werner, whom they might be able to offer to Juventus to offset the potential transfer fees, but completing such a complicated deal would be difficult.
In a worst-case scenario, Chelsea could be forced to look for other centre-back options after failing to secure a deal for De Ligt or Kounde.