Barcelona have beaten Chelsea in signing defender Jules Kounde after agreeing a fee of around €55m with Sevilla, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.
Kounde, 23, was the subject of several offers from Chelsea last summer and he was reportedly close to a move to the England side late last week.
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However, Barca increased their interest at the weekend, with sources telling ESPN that coach Xavi Hernandez’s insistence on signing the centre-back was key to getting the deal through the line.
It’s the second time during the transfer window that Barca beat Chelsea against a player. They also signed Raphinha from Leeds United after the London club agreed a transfer for the striker.
Barca president Joan Laporta said in an interview with ESPN last week that Chelsea, along with Paris Saint-Germain, also tried to sign Robert Lewandowski, who joined the club Blaugrana from FC Bayern Munich earlier this month for 45 million euros.
Kounde becomes Barca’s sixth signing in a busy summer, following the additions of Pablo Torre, Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Raphinha and Lewandowski.
The France international joins Barca after three years in Spain with Sevilla. During this time he played 133 games and scored nine goals. He joined Sevilla from Bordeaux for around €25m and they will be entitled to a percentage of the fee from his Camp Nou move.
He is Barca’s second central defender this summer after Christensen joined from Chelsea on a free transfer. Xavi also has Ronald Araujo, Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia as options in defence, while Kounde and Araujo can both play at right-back as well.
Barca’s spending has been fueled by the sale of 25% of their domestic TV rights to investment firm Sixth Street for around €530m over the next 25 years. The rights are worth around 160 million euros a year to the Catalan club.
However, to get back under his LaLiga spending limit – which was -144 million euros at the end of last season, the only negative cap in the league – and be able to register all the signings as well as Sergi Roberto’s new contracts and Ousmane Dembele signed, Barca still have other players to move on.
Neto, Oscar Mingueza, Samuel Umtiti, Riqui Puig and Martin Braithwaite have all been banned from the United States tour so they could find new clubs, while Barca are also open to offers for other first-team players.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/soccer-transfers/story/4705055/barcelona-beat-chelsea-to-complete-jules-kounde-deal-sources Barcelona beat Chelsea to complete Jules Kounde deal — sources