Chelsea supporters had been starved of genuine transfer news for much of the summer of 2021. Yet as August approached – and with the new season on the horizon – news emerged that the European champions were close to agreeing a move for a highly-regarded defender: Jules Kounde.
Personal terms had been struck over a five-year contract; no problem there. The next step was to submit an offer to the centre-back’s club, Sevilla. It was hoped a bid of £43 million-plus add-ons would be enough. Unfortunately, that didn’t prove the case. Yet Chelsea remained confident and put the transfer on the backburner as they finalised a club-record deal for Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian’s £97.5million return from Inter Milan was concluded on August 13. There was still plenty of time for Chelsea to secure Kounde’s services – and they attempted to despite the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah under Thomas Tuchel during pre-season.
READ MORE: When Romelu Lukaku expects to leave Chelsea as talks with Inter Milan over loan move continue
Yet as the transfer window inched towards its conclusion, Sevilla raised their asking price and eventually decided the France international would not leave unless his £68m release clause was paid. It was at that point that Chelsea paused their pursuit and focused on what they had for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign.
Kounde was not best pleased with Sevilla and admitted his failed move to Stamford Bridge impacted him in the early weeks of the season. Speaking to Telefoot in November, he said: “Did my failed transfer to Chelsea this summer affect me? Yes, a little bit, but now it’s digested.”
The 23-year-old would go on to play 44 times for Sevilla in all competitions last term. Chelsea, meanwhile, maintained their interest a were expected to launch a move for Kounde prior to this summer’s transfer window. However, the sanctions placed upon former owner Roman Abramovich – which the Blues had to operate under until bought by the Todd Boehly-led consortium – scuppered that plan.
Fortunately for Chelsea, Kounde has remained invested in a move to Stamford Bridge and football.london understands he is keen to step up to the challenge of the English game – at 5ft 10ins, the Frenchman wouldn’t possess the traditional physical profile of a Premier League centre-back.
Verbal terms over a contract have long been agreed upon with Kounde; his move solely depends on Chelsea coming to an agreement with Sevilla over a fee. That hasn’t happened – perhaps because the centre-back had to undergo surgery on Tuesday on a minor pelvis injury sustained early into last season.
And this week, Lukaku’s future has again taken centre stage for Chelsea in the transfer window. The striker is intent on returning to Inter Milan on loan after an underwhelming campaign at Stamford Bridge and official talks began between the Blues and the Serie A side on Wednesday.
All the while, as was the case last summer, Kounde continues to wait for his move to become a reality. Ultimately, Chelsea are playing with fire. Yes, the French defender has made it clear he would like to move to west London but Barcelona have shown an interest despite their financial strife.
The last thing Chelsea need – especially given they are two centre-backs down – is to miss out on Kounde because they once more put off making an acceptable bid. It would also not reflect well upon the club’s new co-owner Todd Boehly, who has given Tuchel licence to shape the Blues’ transfer targets this summer.
As the old saying goes: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.