Chelsea look set to miss out on a deadline-day swoop for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde after the La Liga side failed to replace the 22-year-old with Lille’s Sven Botman, according to reports. The Blues have been linked with a move for Kounde since the beginning of the transfer window, but are no closer to securing his signature with just hours to go until the all-important deadline.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been eager to improve his defensive ranks this summer and Kounde is understood to be among the 47-year-old’s top targets.
The 22-year-old has emerged as one of Europe’s finest young centre-backs during his time at Sevilla, turning plenty of heads with his impressive athleticism and cultured range of passing.
He was targeted by Chelsea earlier this summer and reportedly agreed personal terms with the club, but Sevilla’s reluctance to accept a cut-price fee has prevented the Blues from rubber-stamping the move.
Kounde has a release clause in the region of £77m and his current employers are unwilling to negotiate at a lower price.
Sevilla have also made it clear that he will not be allowed to leave unless a replacement can be signed ahead of this evening’s deadline.
They have been exploring a move for Botman, who made 37 appearances in Ligue 1 last season as Lille clinched their first domestic title in a decade.
However, the Dutch defender will not be joining Sevilla or any other club this summer, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
Botman has also been a target for Wolves, but Lille are determined to keep hold of their prized asset for at least another season.
This development suggests that Chelsea may be forced to admit defeat in their pursuit of Kounde, who is likely to stay in Spain as a result of the situation.
Sevilla director Monchi revealed earlier on Tuesday that discussions have ground to a halt since the Blues saw a formal bid turned down last week.
“The only written, formal offer from Chelsea came last Wednesday, around 5pm,” Monchi told reporters.
“We weren’t satisfied with the offer, and it was linked to Chelsea selling a player. It was a decent fee but it didn’t meet our criteria.
“We responded with a counter-offer that had an expiry date, which was Friday. Since Friday, until now, there has been no contact whatsoever with Chelsea.”
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It is claimed that Kounde’s potential move remains ‘totally blocked’, while Chelsea are believed to be piling their resources into a last-gasp approach for Atletico Madrid playmaker Saul Niguez instead.
The Blues are reportedly eyeing a loan deal to provide cover for the likes of Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante in midfield.
The latter has been struggling with a minor ankle injury in recent months and was forced off at half-time against Liverpool on Saturday as a result of the problem.
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia will be able to follow up the club-record signing of Romelu Lukaku by landing Saul, with the likelihood of a successful move dwindling as the clock ticks down.