Barcelona are reportedly in advanced negotiations to sign Chelsea target Jules Kounde from Sevilla in a deal worth €55-60 million plus a player.

According to Catalunya Radio, Barcelona have stepped up their pursuit of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde as they look to beat Chelsea to the signing of the French international. The Catalan giants are in advanced negotiations with their La Liga rivals over a potential player-plus-cash deal to land the 23-year-old.

Kounde has developed into one of the most sought-after young defenders in Europe since he arrived at Sevilla in the summer of 2019. The defender helped Los Nervionenses win the UEFA Europa League in his first campaign at the club while playing a key role in their top-four finishes in successive seasons.

Kounde’s stock has risen rapidly over these past three seasons, with who’s who of European football keen on signing him. Chelsea came close to landing the French international in 2021, but a move collapsed as Sevilla decided to jack up their asking price at the last moment. However, the Blues are again pursuing the signing of the 23-year-old this summer amidst a defensive overhaul at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have departed Chelsea, with the former joining Real Madrid and the latter close to signing for Barcelona. Question marks linger over the future of captain Cesar Azpilicueta as well, leaving manager Thomas Tuchel to scour the market for at least two top defenders this summer.

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Chelsea have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus. However, the west London side remain keen on signing Kounde as well, who is protected by a release clause worth €90 million. But, as per Catalunya Radio, Chelsea are facing the risk of missing out on the Frenchman, with Barcelona now in advanced talks to sign Kounde from Sevilla.

Barcelona have also had their eyes on Kounde from last summer. But they were not in a position to invest in his signing back then. While their financial situation continues to remain worrisome, the Blaugrana are confident of emerging out of the crisis once they activate the economic levers by selling a percentage of the Barça Licensing & Merchandise (BLM) wing and the TV rights.

Furthermore, Kounde is understood to prefer a transfer to Barcelona over Chelsea, which stacks the odds in their favour. Now, it is being claimed that Barcelona are already in advanced negotiations with Sevilla to come to an arrangement over Kounde’s transfer. The Blaugrana are in no position to pay his €90 million release clause and are planning to insert a player as part of the deal to bring down the price.

As per the report, talks are ongoing over a possible deal worth around €55-60 million, with Barcelona offering either Sergino Dest or Francisco Trincao as a makeweight. The name of Eric Garcia was also mentioned but was quickly shot down by Sevilla director Monchi, but Clement Lenglet could also be an option.

Kounde is on wages of €2.7 million per year at Sevilla, and Barcelona can offer a significant raise on that, provided the activation of the economic levers goes through. An intriguing saga seems to be brewing, and it will be interesting to see where Kounde ends up this summer.

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