Aston Villa

Aston Villa

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Aston Villa told to shatter transfer record in battle with Chelsea for LaLiga gem

Aston Villa are chasing a deal for Barcelona defender Jules Kounde

Aston Villa are chasing a deal for Barcelona defender Jules Kounde

Aston Villa are reportedly ready to battle it out with Chelsea for the signature of Barcelona defender Jules Kounde – but may have to break their transfer record to recruit him.

Kounde began his career at Bordeaux, before signing for Sevilla in a £21.4m move at the age of 20 in the summer of 2019.

In his first campaign with the Spanish side, he helped them win the Europa League for a record sixth time and was named in the tournament’s team of the season.

As his performances continued to improve and the France caps rolled in, Barcelona forked out £42m to acquire his services, however, the centre-back missed the first couple of games in the 2022/23 season as the Catalan outfit were over La Liga’s salary cap limit.

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After eventually making his club debut in late August 2022, Kounde, who can also play as a right-back, has made 82 appearances for Xavi’s side – 78 of which have been starts.

But many believe the France international has not quite hit the heights he achieved at Sevilla and now, Spanish publication Todo Fichajes claims Villa are keen on luring him to Villa Park. Moreover, the Frenchman has frequently been deployed at right-back and not his favoured centre-back position.

Last December, he admitted:  “The truth is, I don’t like to play as a full-back. That’s the reality, but I always say, wherever the coach and the team ask me I’m going to play and give my best, but obviously I feel very comfortable playing as a centre-back because it’s my natural position and it’s where I can give 100%.”

Record transfer fee could be broken

Regardless of that, Kounde – whose contract with Blaugrana runs until the summer of 2027 – could cost between £47-51m and states Chelsea are long-term admirers of the 25-year-old.

If it was towards the upper end of that ballpark figure, that would make him Villa’s record signing; with Moussa Diaby their current most expensive buy at £47m following his move from Bayer Leverkusen last summer.

Despite this, Fabrizio Romano told Caught Offside that Barcelona remain ‘happy’ with Kounde and it would take a ‘really important proposal’ to tempt them into selling him.

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“Some fans have made me aware of a bit of a surprise story about Aston Villa being interested in Jules Kounde this summer, with discussion of the Monchi connection with the former Sevilla defender,” he said.

“However, Villa fans – I’m afraid I have nothing to report here and it looks all quiet on Kounde for now. Barcelona remain happy with him and it would take an important, really important proposal to tempt the club into selling him. So far, nothing has happened and I have no confirmation on this story.”

Barcelona’s financial troubles are well known at this rate but it may take a sensational offer from Emery’s men to tempt Kounde away from the Spanish giants this summer.

Incidentally, Villa confirmed a £119.6m loss in their end of year accounts in early March. These losses fuel concern that they may fall afoul of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules in the future. So whether they will be prepared to break their transfer record on Kounde remains to be seen. If they do, a big sale will probably be required to facilitate that.