Jules Kounde has confirmed that he once spoke directly with Pep Guardiola about the possibility of joining Manchester City.
Kounde made a big move this summer, leaving Sevilla to sign for Barcelona. It was the kind of leap in his career that has been a long time coming. Ever since winning the Europa League with Sevilla in 2020, the Frenchman has looked destined to progress further.
He is now getting that chance in La Liga with Barcelona. But the story could have been different, since he was linked with a Premier League transfer in the past.
Kounde was a major target for Chelsea in the summer of 2021 and remained on their radar until he moved to Barcelona instead. But before then, he had also been connected with Manchester City in transfer speculation a couple of years ago.
Reflecting, the centre-back has now revealed the extent to which Guardiola went to try and sign him.
Asked to verify whether or not Manchester City had previously tried to buy him, Kounde told El Pais: “Yes, in my first year at Sevilla [the end of the 2019-20 season].
“He [Guardiola] called me. He told me that he loved me and that he thought I would fit the way he played.”
Instead of former Barcelona boss Guardiola, Kounde is now playing for current Barcelona boss Xavi. But he believes there are similarities between both coaches after their conversations.
Kounde said: “At a certain point, yes. I talked a lot about football with both of them. And that’s what I like.
“The first thing, in the conversations I had with them, I realised that they had both seen me play – they knew my capabilities perfectly.
“They didn’t talk just to talk. They were very precise conversations.”
Jules Kounde a rare example of Manchester City missing out
Ultimately, it was Xavi who managed to convince Kounde about his next club. Since signing for Barcelona, despite a delay in his registration, the 23-year-old has played twice in La Liga and once in the Champions League.
All three of his appearances in total for his new club so far have been starts. Under contract in Catalonia until 2027, it looks like Kounde has a big chapter of his story to write with Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Manchester City strengthened their own defence this summer with the signing of Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund. He will compete with Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nathan Ake for a place at the back.
Clearly, they are well stocked with a range of quality options in the department. It goes to show how a club of their power can attract several players of a high standard.
But in Kounde’s case, it just wasn’t to be. Given his ability, he will be seen as one that got away, but Guardiola’s side have been doing perfectly fine without him and are aiming to continue that trend.