Chelsea are closing in on Sevilla defender Jules Kounde…
That is according to The Telegraph, who report that the 23-year-old features on an eight-man shortlist of players, which also includes RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez, Chelsea are looking at to solve their centre back crisis.
The Blues were interested in the France international last summer but their deadline-day offer was rejected by the Spanish club.
This report comes as Antonio Rudiger has announced that he will leave the west London club in the summer.
With the German international already agreeing on a deal with Real Madrid, how does Kounde compare to the 29-year-old?
The former Roma defender has been an integral part of the backline in Thomas Tuchel’s side this season, starting 34 out of 38 league matches and only goalkeeper Edouard Mendy having more minutes.
The £31.5m-rated colossus has been instrumental in both defence and attack.
He’s top five in his team for tackles and interceptions, clearances, and blocks this campaign. At the other end, the Berlin-born stopper is in the top 10% for all Premier League centre backs in progressive passes, goal-creating actions, and carries.
The performances of the £115k-per-week tough tackler has led to pundit Garth Crooks including the former Roma defender in his Team of the Season, and he was very complimentary in his BBC Sport column.
“It didn’t take me long to realise that Chelsea had bought a gem. Antonio Rudiger seemed as though he was born to play at Stamford Bridge,” the former Spurs forward said.
“He is one of the few genuine warriors left in the game and the perfect replacement for Sergio Ramos – which is probably why he finds himself leaving for Real Madrid.”
Kounde is a constant fixture at Sevilla, playing 32 league games as his side only conceded 30 goals, the lowest in La Liga.
His qualities at both ends has led to him being hailed as “pretty special” by Spanish football expert Euan McTear.
“He’s still so young, he’s got energy, great positioning too. All the centre-backs, not just in Spain I think, but if you look around Europe, he’s got to be one of the highest prospects.”
He also has more tackles and interceptions, clearances, and blocks per 90 minutes than Rudiger, although the Stuttgart Academy graduate comes out on top when it comes to shot-creating actions and progressive passes, according to FBRef.
It is worth remembering that Rudiger is not the only departure from Stamford Bridge, with Andreas Christensen also leaving.
With the former Bordeaux defender also able to play at fullback, Kounde would be a good replacement for Rudiger and a great start to solving Chelsea’s defensive crisis.