Chelsea have received the bad news they were bracing themselves for after Barcelona announced an agreement in principle to sign defensive target Jules Kounde.
Kounde has been the subject of admiration from Chelsea for more than a year. It seemed like this summer was the ideal time for them to sign him after the exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. However, it is not going to be.
Chelsea have become increasingly aware of their fate in recent days regarding their pursuit of Kounde. Barcelona have been showing rival interest and the scales have been tipping in their favour, despite their offer supposedly coming in a lower package than Chelsea’s would have.
Now, Barcelona have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Sevilla for the transfer of Kounde.
The France international is already at the club’s premises to undergo a medical. Should he pass it, he can sign his contract and officially become a Barcelona player.
In turn, he would become a new teammate of Christensen at Camp Nou, rather than a replacement for him at Stamford Bridge. Kounde will be Barcelona’s fifth signing of the summer after the Denmark international, plus Franck Kessie, Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski.
In the defence, he will be competing for a place with Christensen, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia and Gerard Pique. The likes of Samuel Umtiti and Oscar Mingueza could leave.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will have to turn their attention to other targets. They have brought in Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli in a high-profile transfer, but are still down numerically compared to last season for their centre-back options.
The 23-year-old Kounde would have given them solidity for years to come. Instead, he will be continuing in La Liga, where he has played since signing for Sevilla from Bordeaux in 2019.
Kounde is leaving Sevilla with 133 appearances and nine goals for the club behind him. He was a member of their squad that won the 2019-20 Europa League.
The Frenchman will be hoping further honours await in Catalonia.
Jules Kounde has earned Barcelona move
During recent seasons, Kounde has proven himself as one of Europe’s most promising defenders.
When Sevilla won the Europa League, he earned a place in the tournament’s squad of the season. Since then, he has become a full France international, tasting further success in the UEFA Nations League.
Despite being under six feet tall, which is relatively small for a centre-back, Kounde has exceptional reading of the game.
There is little doubt he would have been a success at Chelsea, but instead it will be Barcelona benefitting from his talents. He will be a marquee signing in a summer of many for the Catalan club.
His contract with Barcelona should last until 2027, during which time he will enter his prime years.