Barcelona are still trying to muscle in on Chelsea’s attempt to sign the Sevilla centre-back Jules Koundé.
Chelsea have held extensive talks with Sevilla this week and are close to an agreement on a fee in the region of £55m for Koundé. However Barça are also interested in the France defender and could fund a bid if they sell a stake in their merchandising arm.
Koundé, who has now asked to join up with Sevilla’s pre-season trip to Portugal after the decision was initially taken for him to stay in Spain and train alone, is believed to be open to joining either Chelsea or Barça. It is understood the 23-year-old has agreed terms on a five-year deal with Chelsea, who want to sign three centre-backs.
Thomas Tuchel needs to strengthen his defence after losing Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers. Chelsea, who have signed Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £33.8m, have targeted Koundé for more than a year and are also in talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a deal for Presnel Kimpembe. Josko Gvardiol is an option if PSG keep Kimpembe, though RB Leipzig do not want to sell.
Chelsea’s owners are determined to back Tuchel in the transfer market. However, negotiations over some targets are proving tricky. The club missed out on Nathan Aké after Manchester City decided not to sell the Netherlands defender, and they were also frustrated in their attempts to strengthen their attack when Barcelona won the race to sign Raphinha from Leeds. Now Barça are trying to disrupt Chelsea’s plans again. The Catalan club’s manager, Xavi Hernández, is a huge admirer of Koundé.
It is understood that Barça, who have experienced major financial problems, have urged Koundé to wait for them to meet Sevilla’s asking price. However, others have questioned whether Barça have the funds available after signing Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich.
If Koundé joins Chelsea it could pave the way for César Azpilicueta to move to Barça, who also want Marcos Alonso. Azpilicueta, who has a year left on his deal, wants a new challenge after 10 years in England. Yet Chelsea may need their captain to stay if they miss out on their main targets.