Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Jules Kounde from Sevilla, beating Premier League side Chelsea to yet another player.
Chelsea fans have grown frustrated with Barcelona this summer after they swooped into sign Raphinha, when the Blues looked to have poached the Brazilian from Arsenal, while also tying Ousmane Dembele down to a new deal and signing Robert Lewandowski.
But the Kounde transfer saga was a fascinating one as, just a week ago, Chelsea looked in pole position to sign the French defender as part of their summer rebuild under Thomas Tuchel. The Blues have already lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, the latter to Barcelona, and were also set to sell Cesar Azpilicueta, also to the Blaugrana.
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According to reports, Chelsea had agreed a deal with Sevilla for Kounde with personal terms also decided, only needing to send over the paperwork to the Spanish club to finalise the transfer. But Barcelona swooped in over the weekend and have now confirmed the reported £49m deal, with Kounde joining Xavi’s side providing everything goes well with his medical and the contracts are signed.
And the Frenchman has confirmed that talking to Xavi played a big part in him choosing Barcelona over Chelsea.
“The coach Xavi is one of the great reasons why I’m here,” he told Barca TV.
Jules Koundé compared to LaLiga centre-backs since joining Sevilla:
◉ Most touches in the opp. box
◉ Most take-ons completed
◉ Most forward passes
◉ Most final ⅓ passes
The perfect modern CB. 😍 pic.twitter.com/fuNCfNMqNf
— Squawka (@Squawka) July 28, 2022
“I’ve spoken to him several times, the way he spoke was captivating and we had some good conversations, we see football in the same way.
“So now it’s a question of coming into the team, doing my best to have as many minutes possible, settle into the team and having an important role in the team.”
Kounde is easily one of the best young centre-backs in Europe right now, particular for teams who want a ball-playing defender. In La Liga last season, Kounde attempted 317 final third passes and had a pass accuracy of 88.85%, but he also attempted 39 take-ons, capable of playing at right-back should Barcelona need him.
|Summer transfer odds 22/23: To sign for before 3rd September||Sky Bet|
|Cristiano Ronaldo to Sporting CP||5/1|
|Antony to Man Utd||8/13|
|Christian Pulisic to Newcastle||6/1|
|Frenkie de Jong to Man Utd||5/2|
|Youri Tielemans to Arsenal||10/11|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea||2/7|
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The Frenchman described himself as a dynamic player with a lot of energy and skill to play the ball from behind, while also having the defensive capabilities. And he’s looking to improve his skills at Barcelona.
“I have objectives of course but I set myself no limits,” he added.
“I want to progress at a team level and individually I want to grow as well, and learn. This is a great club with great players, many of them have won trophies before. So I’m going to listen, learn, and do the best I can.
“Sevilla is a great club of course, but I think that Barca are the next step in my career at every level, personally and in terms of football. And I’m very excited about this. I want to compete in every competition to win it. I’m going try and win as much as possible in terms of trophies and games, and that’s why I’m here.”
Once his medical is done, Kounde will link up with his new Barcelona teammates with a view to behind part of their squad for the La Liga opener against Rayo Vallecano. However, there are some doubts over whether Barcelona will be able to register their new signings.
Kounde is the sixth arrival at Barcelona this season after Raphinha, Christensen, Franck Kessie, Padro Torre, Roberto Fernandez and one Robert Lewandowski.