Chelsea are laser-focused on signing Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde and have been tracking the Frenchman for over two years now.
The Blues have already agreed personal terms with Kounde and are now working to strike a deal with Sevilla, who are looking to earn close to the defender’s £68m release clause, although Chelsea are looking to bring the cost down by offering players in exchange.
Chelsea have not been put off by Zouma’s stance and intend to push ahead with their plans to sign Kounde regardless, and The Athletic‘s Simon Johnson has revealed just how determined the Blues really are to get this deal done.
Not only did Thomas Tuchel put Kounde on his targets list when he joined in January, but Chelsea officials have been watching the Frenchman for the last two years, ever since he joined Sevilla from Bordeaux.
Already a clear star of the future back then, Kounde’s stock has risen to new heights over the past 12 months. He was one of the top defenders in La Liga last season and now has the 100+ senior appearances Chelsea like to look for when they bring a young player – academy graduate or otherwise – into the first team.
Chelsea are now thought to be incessantly negotiating with Sevilla to try and get a deal over the line. The expectation is that Kounde will end up a Chelsea player one way or another, but the Blues are keen to find a way to bring the cost down before agreeing to pay his release clause.
Alongside Zouma, 90min understands Davide Zappacosta, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Matt Miazga and Kenedy have all been mentioned in negotiations, but Chelsea are yet to find the right formula needed to land Kounde.
Sevilla have expressed an interest in Andreas Christensen, who has just one year left on his contract, but Tuchel wants to keep the Dane and hopes to see him pen an extension in the not-too-distant future.
Should Christensen reject a new deal, Chelsea may be more receptive to the idea of swapping him, but the plan is still to try and find a fringe player who can bring Kounde’s value down far enough.