Barcelona have agreed a deal with Sevilla for defender Jules Kounde, with the Catalan club pipping Chelsea to the France international.
Sky Sports News reported last week that Chelsea were confident of signing the French international defender, but the 23-year-old has chosen to remain in Spain and adopt Barcelona colours.
On Friday, the Blues reached an agreement for Kounde with Sevilla, who preferred that the player leave for Stamford Bridge rather than join a direct rival in Barcelona. Chelsea grew frustrated they had not heard a decision from the player on Saturday and had decided to move on to other targets on Sunday.
And Barcelona confirmed on Thursday night that they have reached an agreement with Sevilla for the signing of Kounde, with the defender now set for a medical in Catalonia before putting pen to paper on a contract.
Chelsea, who signed Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly earlier this month and also registered an interest in Manchester City’s centre-back Nathan Ake, will continue their search for another new centre-back. Sky Sports News revealed earlier this week that the Blues are keen on Leicester’s French defender Wesley Fofana.
Fofana signed a two-year contract extension with Leicester in March. His deal runs until 2027. Chelsea lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to Spanish football, with the duo joining Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
How did Barcelona steal Kounde from Chelsea?
Sky Sports News’ reporter Dharmesh Sheth:
“If you look at last summer’s transfer window and this summer’s one, Chelsea were very, very interested in signing Jules Kounde. In fact, they were confident up until two weeks ago that they would sign him. But then Barcelona entered the fray. And it seemed Kounde’s head had been turned.
“It’s probably not in Sevilla’s interest to sell Kounde to Barcelona because Chelsea’s deal would have been a good one that Sevilla would have wanted to pursue. Sevilla and Barcelona are in the same league and are rivals for Champions League finishes, potentially.
“Chelsea were after Raphinha as well, they thought they had a deal agreed with Leeds but they lost out to Barcelona. It’s just another chapter in the saga of: how are Barcelona doing all of these deals?”
Tuchel ‘annoyed’ at Barca’s Azpilicueta pursuit
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, has admitted he is a “little bit” annoyed with Barcelona over their pursuit of Cesar Azpilicueta.
The 32-year-old has 12 months remaining on his Chelsea contract and has reportedly asked to leave the club after a decade at Stamford Bridge to return to his native Spain with Barcelona.
But Tuchel says he is not sure if he wants to give Azpilicueta “what he wants”, and believes Barca have undervalued the defender, comparing his value to that of recent Chelsea capture Koulibaly, who signed for £33m.
When asked if he has been annoyed by the Spanish giants’ pursuit of Azpilicueta, Tuchel replied: “Maybe a little bit.”
Asked about the Spaniard’s future, Tuchel said: “It’s a tough question because I am not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants.
“At some point it is about what we want. I just made the comparison about how much we fought for Koulibaly, who is a national team player and roughly the same age.
“He is a hugely important player for Napoli but we have a Spanish international who is the captain at Chelsea. I see him maybe at the same level but Barcelona don’t see him on that level. So I am not sure if I want to give him what he wants as he is a huge player.
“We don’t think so much about other clubs. The focus is on us and what we need. I said that to him and I say it to you that I understand on a personal and a career level. But I am not only in this role to give him what he wants. I am a manager for Chelsea who wants to do what’s best for Chelsea.
“He doesn’t like it but he understands. It is tough for him because the other club is permanently on him. On September 1 when things calm down, then he can play on his highest level.”
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