Chelsea negotiating final hurdle of Jules Kounde deal after Barcelona pull out of £55m transfer

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 (Getty Images)
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Chelsea have a clear run to complete their £55million deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde after Barcelona switched to other targets.

The Catalan giants have been priced out of the race by the Blues and have now begun work to sign Inigo Martinez from Athletic Club instead.

It leaves the new Boehly-Clearlake owners needing to just agree a fee with the LaLiga outfit for Kounde, and they are close to doing so having matched their valuation with remaining negotiations focusing on the structure of add-on clauses.

With the 23-year-old France international having already agreed a five-year deal with Chelsea until 2027, these talks will be the final hurdle to complete the transfer.

When the deal is done, Chelsea will have completed three out of a requested five major transfers this summer.

Thomas Tuchel has told sporting director Todd Boehly that he needs major reinforcements to his defence and wants to add Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe next.

There are concerns about his desire to leave his boyhood club even after Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante attempted to talk him around.

The Blues could switch their attention to RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol if that approach fails but his club are reluctant to sell and the deal would be further complicated by the structure of agents around the Croatian.

The signing of Kounde could allow Cesar Azpilicueta to finally leave for Barcelona, something he has repeatedly requested. The Spaniard is keen to make the switch and sign a two-year contract at the Camp Nou.

The sale of Azpilicueta would allow Tuchel to consider venturing into the market for wing-backs towards the end of the transfer window.

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