Xavi confirms Jules Kounde transfer talks, claiming Barcelona ‘illusion’ helping to stave off Chelsea threat

Xavi, Barcelona manager July 2022

Barcelona manager Xavi has confirmed transfer talks for Sevilla’s Chelsea target Jules Kounde, claiming the Camp Nou is a “magnet” for top talent.

Chelsea looked like they had the centre-back’s arrival in the bag at the third time of asking. Following an unsuccessful chase last summer, a January deal this year was also off the cards.

But Chelsea have a five-year deal on the table for Kounde this summer and are ready to pay Sevilla’s £55million valuation.

However, Barcelona have urged the France international to hang on. They are likely to submit a lower bid than Chelsea while they get their finances in order.

Still, the offer of more cash up front could tempt Sevilla. And Chelsea are reportedly close to giving up on Kounde altogether, realising time is running out to make more defensive signings.

Speaking at a press conference, Xavi admitted that he had no definitive update on Kounde to Barcelona. But he insisted that the club are working to improve the squad further.

“I feel bad, but I still can’t offer any progress,” the Spaniard said.

“The club is working to keep improving and have more competition. If we have something official to say, we will say it.”

Barcelona have caught the eye this summer after big-money deals for Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski, despite massive debts.

Xavi insisted that the pull of Barca as a club is helping them attract such top talents.

Xavi lauds Barcelona status amid Kounde hunt

“The greatness of the club, speaking clearly with the player, everything adds up,” Xavi said.

“We are Barca and people are excited about it. This year, the word is ‘illusion’ – the illusion of returning to the top.

“I don’t compare projects. I explain things clearly: the model, the city. That’s how I am. If I don’t give 100 per cent, I stay at home.

“I try to make them enjoy and make them feel important. It’s clear that Barca helps, it’s clear. Barcelona is a magnet for footballers.”

Kounde has played 133 games for Sevilla, chipping in with nine goals and three assists.

La Liga club must perform

Barcelona have also made the headlines for claims they are ‘mortgaging’ their future to pay for this summer’s deals.

Twenty-five percent of their La Liga TV rights have gone to Sixth Street in a 25-year arrangement.

And with the massive spending on Raphinha and Lewandowski, all eyes will be on the Blaugrana next season to prove they can back up their investment with on-pitch progress.

They showed signs of a resurgence last season under Xavi, qualifying for the Champions League after dropping into the Europa League.

Their early summer business showed restraint, with free transfer deals for Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen.

But signing off parts of the club for 25 years to afford the big-money deals for their new goalscorers means they have attracted attention from across Europe – and their 2022/23 season will be one to watch closely.