Chelsea will aim to return to the negotiating table for a long-term target in January after the reasons for them missing out in the summer were revealed.
It was a busy summer for Chelsea, who broke their transfer record to bring back Romelu Lukaku. In addition, they signed Saul Niguez on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid. They also worked hard at raising funds by offloading unwanted players of their own.
But there were some pieces of business that they didn’t get round to completing. A few of the players they wanted rid of remain on the books, for instance. Meanwhile, one space they were looking to fill with a new signing was ultimately never reinforced.
After strengthening their attack with the addition of Lukaku, Chelsea turned their attention to the opposite end of the pitch. They were keen to sign a new centre-back and had a very clear idea of who: Jules Kounde.
The Frenchman has established himself as one of Europe’s most promising defenders in recent years. He helped Sevilla win the Europa League in 2020 and followed it up with another strong season to earn a place in his country’s squad for Euro 2020.
After his involvement in that competition, the focus turned back to his future at club level. It emerged in late July that Chelsea had been laying the groundworks for a transfer and were ready to pounce.
But they encountered difficulties negotiating with Sevilla, who wanted to receive Kounde’s full €80m release clause. There was some progress as those demands dropped. But the La Liga outfit suddenly raised them again towards the end of the window, forcing Kounde to stay put.
According to ESPN, though, Chelsea will be reviving their pursuit of the 22-year-old in January. However, they will only pursue a deal if Sevilla reduce their asking price again.
The report claims Sevilla opted to raise Kounde’s price tag back up late last month because of Chelsea’s sale of Kurt Zouma to West Ham. With more funds in their pockets, the theory was that Chelsea could spend more on their target.
They did not want to, though, after previously coming close to taking him for €50m plus add-ons. If they can return to such a figure, Kounde will be a top target again.
What’s more, the player himself is very keen on the idea of moving to Stamford Bridge, where advanced discussions have taken place over a four- or five-year contract.
But as long as Sevilla insist on the payment of his release clause, Chelsea will have to wait.
Chelsea defender drops contract bombshell
After the exit of Zouma and failure to sign Kounde, there has been an opening for academy graduate Trevoh Chalobah in the Chelsea first team.
But their need for another option at the back would only increase if they were to lose another of their current senior stars there.
Since taking the reins in January, Thomas Tuchel has been everything Chelsea could’ve hoped for and more. The backbone of his success in England has been their impenetrable defence.
Cesar Azpilicueta continues to operate at an exceedingly high level week in, week out. In addition, Thiago Silva and Andreas Christensen have excelled primarily in the middle of a three-man backline.
The final piece of their jigsaw is Antonio Rudiger. The German international was brought back in from the cold in the final days of Frank Lampard’s tenure. The mere fact he was cast aside in the first place raised eyebrows given his sparkling displays in the Tuchel era.
However, Rudiger, Azpilicueta and Christensen are all in the final years of their contracts.
Rudiger in particular will command widespread interest from Europe’s big hitters. A recent report detailed interest from Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
However, according to ESPN (citing French outlet Le10 Sport), it is PSG who are heading the queue. They will likely succeed in scooping up yet another free agent acquisition. Indeed, Rudiger appears like he ‘won’t sign new terms at Stamford Bridge’.
Instead, he is supposedly ‘waiting’ until January at which time he will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign suitors.
Chelsea are apparently ‘working hard’ to resolve the contract stand-off. But with each passing week, PSG are growing ever more confident of landing the 28-year-old next summer.
In further bad news, Rudiger’s representatives have ‘barely touched base’ with Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia.
If ESPN’s report is anything to go by, the chances of Rudiger remaining in London are looking increasingly slim.