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Chelsea have opened talks with Sevilla over the signing of Jules Koundé, having made the French centre-back their top defensive target this summer.
Koundé is considered one of the best central defenders in La Liga and was part of the France squad for the European Championship this summer. The 22-year-old has a release clause of €80m (£68.4m) and is open to a move to England as he is keen to play in the Champions League next season. The two clubs have commenced negotiations, although Chelsea are not prepared to pay the release clause.
Thomas Tuchel wants to improve his options at the back and the manager, who led his side to Champions League glory last season, believes that Koundé is the right fit. Manchester United have also shown an interest in the defender but Chelsea have made the first move. Sevilla are in financial difficulties, potentially handing Chelsea an advantage during negotiations.
The European champions want to back Tuchel in the transfer market and have already raised funds by allowing two centre-backs to leave this summer, having sold Fikayo Tomori to Milan for £30m and Marc Guéhi to Crystal Palace in a deal that could reach up to £20m.
However, Chelsea, who are close to signing the former Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli on a free transfer, will probably need to lose another central defender if Koundé arrives. Tuchel already has Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen at his disposal, while César Azpilicueta played on the right side of a back three last season.
Rüdiger and Christensen both have one year left on their deals and it is understood that Tuchel could allow the former to leave if the right offer arrives. Zouma could also push to leave after falling down the pecking order under Tuchel.
Chelsea are also on the hunt for a new No 9 and have targeted Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, Internazionale’s Romelu Lukaku, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. They have made space in attack by allowing Olivier Giroud to join Milan and they could increase their budget further by selling Tammy Abraham. Arsenal and West Ham are interested in Abraham, although both clubs could be put off by Chelsea’s £40m asking price for the striker.
Tuchel has also told Chelsea’s board that he wants another central midfielder. The club are monitoring West Ham’s Declan Rice and Aurélien Tchouaméni of Monaco. West Ham are determined not to sell Rice this summer.
Tuchel is determined to build a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title and the German also believes he needs more options on the right flank. He was interested in signing Achraf Hakimi from Inter, only for Paris Saint-Germain to beat Chelsea to the signing of the Moroccan right-back. The Wolves winger Adama Traoré could be an alternative to Hakimi.
Chelsea’s 18-year-old right-back Tino Livramento is expected to complete a move to Brighton soon.