Liverpool are attempting to muscle in on a deal for long-time Chelsea target Jules Kounde, though both clubs could see their chances torpedoed by Newcastle, per reports.
Chelsea have long been linked with a move for Sevilla centre-half Jules Kounde. The Blues sought to sign the Frenchman in the summer, but Sevilla’s strong bargaining position meant they were well placed to hold out for his release clause.
The Blues refused to activate the clause, ensuring Kounde would remain in Sevilla for at least another six months.
However, Chelsea continue to be strongly linked with the 23-year-old amid ongoing uncertainty around their centre-back corps. Thiago Silva has penned a one-year extension. But Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen are all on course to leave as free agents next summer.
A deal for Kounde could therefore be revisited when the season concludes. However, according to Spanish outlet Marca, Chelsea’s inability to procure a deal last year will now see them rivalled by Liverpool.
Per the outlet, Kounde is now being ‘followed’ by Liverpool. But the main subject of Marca’s report centred around a different Sevilla centre-half – Diego Carlos.
Carlos exit bad news for Kounde suitors
The Brazilian, 28, is a prime target for Newcastle this month as they seek to shore up their leaky backline. An injury to an alternative target has now ramped up the importance of securing Carlos’ signature.
The Liverpool Echo (citing Marca) acknowledge Newcastle’s ongoing pursuit, but indicate Sevilla would be highly unlikely to sell both Carlos and Kounde in quick succession.
Diego Carlos submits transfer request amid Newcastle rumours
Diego Carlos submits a transfer request to Sevilla as defender wants Premier League move
And with Newcastle expected to up their offer for Carlos this month, few would be surprised to see money talk when all is said and done.
If achieved, Liverpool and Chelsea’s chances of prising Kounde out of Sevilla next summer would plummet.
One in, one out at Anfield
Meanwhile, Liverpool will recall centre-back Rhys Williams from a loan spell at Swansea to allow Nat Phillips to leave on a permanent deal, according to a report.
Goal report that the Reds want to bring Williams back into Klopp’s squad. He has only played five Championship games for Swansea this season and has not featured since December 4. However, Klopp will not let the centre-back leave on loan to a different club.
Instead, he wants Williams to stick around and act as the club’s fifth-choice centre-back – as Phillips has done this season.
But Phillips, who is four years older than Williams, has proven his worth in the Premier League and now wants regular football at a new club. The defender has only featured three times for the Reds this term.
West Ham have interest in Phillips, but ideally want a centre-back who can provide cover on the left. As such, Goal adds that Watford came forward with an offer for him earlier this month. However, Liverpool rejected the approach.
The Liverpool Echo provides more details on the Reds’ assessment of his value. Sporting director Michael Edwards values Phillips at £15million. The £12million Burnley paid Stoke City for Nathan Collins last summer is reportedly his guide.
Burnley could make a move for the Liverpool man if Newcastle firm up interest in Clarets star James Tarkowski. In any case, the Liverpool Echo adds that the race to sign Phillips will intensify in the coming days because of Williams’ imminent return to Merseyside.