football

Chelsea’s pursuit of Koundé stalls after Zouma rejects West Ham move


Chelsea’s pursuit of Sevilla’s Jules Koundé has stalled after their attempts to make space in their squad for a new defender were frustrated by Kurt Zouma’s refusal to join West Ham.

Thomas Tuchel is on the hunt for defensive reinforcements and has identified Koundé as a key target. However Chelsea are yet to reach an agreement with Sevilla on a price for the France centre-back, with the uncertainty over Zouma’s future causing negotiations to slow down.

Koundé has a release clause of €80m (£68m), which Chelsea are not willing to trigger. They initially proposed paying €35m for the 21-year-old and including Zouma, only to find that Sevilla want more money. Sevilla do not agree with Chelsea’s £30m valuation of Zouma because they are unsure of the 26-year-old defender’s resale value and have decided to hold out for at least €60m for Koundé, who is one of the best centre-backs in Spain.

Chelsea’s squad contains four centre-backs, with César Azpilicueta and Reece James also capable of operating on the right side of a back three, and they will need to move one on to facilitate a move for Koundé. Zouma is available after falling down the pecking order under Tuchel and there was a sense that the centre-back would favour a move to West Ham instead of Sevilla after they registered their interest last week.

Although the Frenchman is settled in London, he has left West Ham disappointed after indicating that he does not want to join them. West Ham had held talks with Chelsea over a fee but they are likely to switch their focus to other targets. David Moyes has looked at the Fiorentina centre-back Nikola Milenkovic.

Chelsea, who have also gauged Sevilla’s interest in Kenedy and Emerson Palmieri, are also in the market for a striker. They are preparing an improved offer for Internazionale’s Romelu Lukaku.



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