Chelsea’s hopes of signing Jules Kounde could be boosted by a Sevilla move for a former Liverpool defender, according to reports.
With Romelu Lukaku on his way to strengthen Chelsea’s attack, their focus is also on upgrading their defensive options. Kounde is their top target in that regard, with talks ongoing for several weeks. The Frenchman is one of the most promising centre-backs in the world and would be a smart addition for Chelsea.
However, due to his obvious potential, he will not be coming cheap. Chelsea showed last summer how they are willing to spend big and it looks like a similar story will follow if they get both Lukaku and Kounde.
But as of yet, they have not found an agreement for the latter. Various attempts at swap deals have not hit the mark. Therefore, the process has been delayed while Sevilla work out a preferable way to replace Kounde.
According to Fabrizio Romano, following earlier reports from Bild, the La Liga outfit are interested in ex-Liverpool loanee Ozan Kabak.
Kabak helped Liverpool bridge the gap between the injuries of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip and their bolstering of the defensive ranks. After arriving on loan in the winter transfer window, he initially showed his importance before losing his place.
Thus, Liverpool said thank you and goodbye to the Turkey international at the end of his spell. His return to Schalke poses a problem for the German club, who suffered relegation without him.
Unable to keep him in the second tier, Schalke will look to sell to raise funds this summer. He will have a number of options, including some in the Premier League. For example, TEAMtalk have revealed that Leicester are looking at him to cover for the injured Wesley Fofana.
Now, Sevilla have also joined the race as they look to plug the potential Kounde-shaped void in their defence.
In fact, Romano claims they have made an opening offer of €10m, but it has been turned down. Instead, Schalke are holding out for €15m. Undeterred, Sevilla remain in talks.
Once the deal goes through, Chelsea will have higher hopes of signing Kounde – but even then, one obstacle will remain. It was recently revealed that the Blues must offload one of their own defenders first to make room for the 22-year-old.
Chelsea must sell first
Kurt Zouma could be the most likely casualty; indeed, Chelsea tried to offer him to Sevilla as a makeweight. However, the two clubs have disagreed about his valuation.
Zouma has also been linked with a move across London to join West Ham, although that looks unlikely – again due to his price tag. One option that may remain viable is Atletico Madrid, who are seeking to add one more defender to their title-winning squad.
Only if Zouma – or another centre-back – departs will Chelsea be able to get their man in Kounde.
But promisingly from a Blues perspective, one of the dominoes in the process may be starting to fall if Sevilla sign Kabak.