Barcelona may wreck Chelsea transfer plans on top of Azpilicueta and Christensen deals

Antonio Rudiger admits he could have stayed at Chelsea

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Chelsea face a fight to sign Jules Kounde this summer as reports in Spain suggest Barcelona are ready to join the race for his signature. The Sevilla star is Thomas Tuchel’s top target this summer as the Blues look to replace two outgoing defenders in Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Barca have already agreed to sign Christensen on a free transfer after the Denmark international rejected new terms to stay at Stamford Bridge and could yet swoop for captain Cesar Azpilicueta as well. And it seems the Catalan giants could ruin Chelsea’s summer plans again as Xavi Hernandez is keen on bringing Kounde to Camp Nou.

The La Liga outfit are looking to strengthen their backline, with the 23-year-old listed as a target along with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. The French defender remains keen to leave for a new challenge this summer, with Chelsea expected to launch a second attempt to sign him after missing out last summer.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Xavi was a fan of Kounde before he took charge of the club in November. He also shares a good relationship with Fernando Navarro, assistant sporting director to transfer guru Monchi, and the report claims a move ‘cannot be ruled out’.

However, the club’s precarious financial situation could prevent them from matching Chelsea and they may need to sell first before they can buy. Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti could be on their way out this summer, which could free up funds for the Blaugrana to launch their move.

Kounde is understood to be available for around £50million this summer, which normally would not put him outside of Chelsea’s price range. But the Blues are currently unable to make signings ahead of the transfer window as Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover is yet to be completed.

The sanctions placed upon the club prevented Chelsea from making an improved offer to both Rudiger and Christensen, whose contracts expire this summer. The pair have opted to head to Spain with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, with Azpilicueta mulling over a move, leaving Tuchel short in defensive numbers.

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Once the takeover goes through, Kounde is expected to be one of the first players the west London club target as Tuchel looks to rebuild his squad. The 48-year-old confirmed the club “tried for Kounde” last summer, only to miss out on transfer deadline day.

“We [Tuchel and Marina Granovskaia] were in contact and Petr Cech (technical and performance advisor) was in contact. Us three we knew about all the situations,” he said in September 2021. “But it was clear we tried for Kounde and Saul and it was very, very late, but it was a very, very smooth transfer window because I had full concentration on training and on my team.”

Sevilla’s decision to increase their asking price to £68m at the last minute saw Chelsea pull out of a move. But the Spanish club may now be willing to settle for a lower fee, which could allow Chelsea to revive the deal and return to the negotiating table.

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