Lopetegui braced for Kounde exit with Barca tipped to swoop

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Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui appears resigned to losing in-demand defender Jules Kounde.

Barcelona are reportedly leading the race to sign Kounde, although Sevilla sporting director Monchi on Thursday stated there had been no contact between the two LaLiga clubs.

Chelsea and Manchester City have also been linked with the 23-year-old France centre-back.

Sevilla have already sold Diego Carlos to Aston Villa before bringing in Marcao from Galatasaray, and Lopetegui warned they must be busy in the transfer market if Kounde departs.

"We are aware of the departure of an important player, and we don't know yet if another important player could leave," said the former Spain and Real Madrid boss.

"The Spanish league is tremendously competitive, the Champions League too, and we want to have the best team possible.

"It is certain that the club will work to replace very, very important players and also to provide players who can make us grow in internal competitiveness, because we must improve the team to try to achieve the objectives.

"A very important player, Diego Carlos, has left, and it may be that our other regular central defender has also left, we don't know what will happen.

"They are difficult to replace, and we have to help Marcao so that he adapts quickly to the demands."

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