Chelsea fear transfer deja vu as Barcelona work on Jules Kounde charm offensive

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·3-min read
Chelsea fear transfer deja vu as Barcelona work on Jules Kounde charm offensive
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Chelsea face a nervous wait over their move for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde after Barcelona attempted to hijack their approach.

They face history repeating itself after losing Leeds United winger Raphinha in similar circumstances, with the 23-year-old France international being told to wait for the Catalan giants to raise funds for a move.

The La Liga side’s manager Xavi has been instrumental in convincing his targets to turn down the Blues, having also poached Andreas Christensen from Chelsea on a free transfer.

Barcelona have also offered the club’s captain Cesar Azpilicueta a lucrative two-year deal that he wants to accept.

Previous owner Roman Abramovich was willing to let the 32-year-old move on after nine years of service but the new Boehly-Clearlake consortium have been told by Thomas Tuchel to hold off on allowing the move.

“I am not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants,” Tuchel said when asked by Standard Sport. “At some point, it is about what we want. I just made the comparison about how much we fought for [Kalidou] Koulibaly, who is a national team player and roughly the same age.

“He is a hugely important player for Napoli but we have a Spanish international who is the captain at Chelsea. I see him maybe at the same level but Barcelona don’t see him on that level. So I am not sure if I want to give him what he wants as he is a huge player. He doesn't like it but he understands.”

The Blues have also seen an approach from Barcelona for Marcos Alonso, who is also keen to move to Camp Nou.

Both Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso want to join Barcelona (REUTERS)
Both Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso want to join Barcelona (REUTERS)

With transfers occupying his time, Tuchel has found it hard to focus on preparing his team for the new season and his frustration was clear to see after the 4-0 defeat to Arsenal in Orlando that completed a difficult tour of the United States.

"I’m far from relaxed. We deserved to lose because we were simply not good enough," he said. "We were absolutely not competitive. The worrying part is the level of commitment, physically and mentally, for this match was not the same, it was far higher for Arsenal than us.

"We can argue they played with I think their strongest line-up; they’ve had now together several weeks and for more than one year. They’ve strengthened their line-up, played the same structure, and this is the line-up they’ll try to start Premier League games.

"It was not our strongest line-up and this is part of an explanation but only a little part. The other part is worrying. I cannot guarantee [we will be ready for next season].

Milan Skriniar is a possible new target. (Getty Images)
Milan Skriniar is a possible new target. (Getty Images)

"I saw a team in Arsenal who are mentally committed to an idea of playing, a level of exhaustion, a level of physical commitment that we could not match.

"Also, a level of mental commitment that we lacked because we have a lot of players who are thinking about leaving and looking at their options. We have players that have left and I think at the moment that’s obvious.”

The Blues have alternative defensive targets in mind should they lose out to Barcelona for Kounde but they are all imperfect options.

They can do battle for Inter’s Milan Skriniar but would have to take on one of the world’s richest clubs in Paris Saint-Germain. They also want Presnel Kimpembe but he is reluctant to leave PSG himself. Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol is another option but the Bundesliga side do not want to sell him.

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