Manchester United are described as ‘willing’ to offer up to €70m (£61m) for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, a player widely recognised as one of the best emerging defenders in Europe.
But United are not alone in their interest in Kounde, who is also being watched by Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. He was additionally on Manchester City’s wish list last summer until they went in a different direction and signed Ruben Dias from Benfica instead.
A top quality centre-back is a priority for United ahead of next season as they seek to bring in a long-term partner for £80m club captain Harry Maguire.
90min revealed back in November that Kounde appeared on a list of options being drawn up by the Old Trafford club. Villarreal’s Pau Torres is another of the players near the top of the list, while United have also kept tabs on Brighton’s Ben White and Leicester’s Caglar Soyuncu.
More recently, Raphael Varane and Tyrone Mings have been added to that list.
According to Spanish newspaper La Razon, United would be prepared to commit €70m towards signing 22-year-old Kounde. That figure would make him one of the most expensive players in the club’s history behind only Paul Pogba, the aforementioned Maguire, and Romelu Lukaku.
That is more than Real Madrid would be willing to pay, with players like Isco or Mariano potentially to be offered to Sevilla in part-exchange to lower the cash value of any prospective deal.
The matter is complicated by potential various knock-on effects involving other players.
Real are already thought to be losing Sergio Ramos this summer when his contract expires, although they could put even less money into a Kounde deal if he stays. Equally, selling Varane, who has been tipped to seek a new challenge instead sign a fresh contract, could raise money to buy Kounde.
PSG are also drawn into the ifs and buts aspect of it. They are expected to land Ramos if and when he leaves Real. But if they don’t get him, it is said they will have no issue with going in high for Kounde instead, triggering a €90m (£78.6m) release clause to skip negotiating a fee.
The French champions could afford to do that no problem if they are to sell Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid, but that deal requires Los Blancos to offload a number of high earners to make room and raise cash.