Rumour Has It: Chelsea pivot to Jules Kounde after Nathan Ake deal falls through

By Sports Desk July 16, 2022

Chelsea have marked Sevilla's Jules Kounde as their centre-back of the future after a deal for Manchester City's Nathan Ake fell apart.

An agreement had been taking shape to bring 27-year-old Ake back to Stamford Bridge – where he began his Premier League career – before City decided to retain the services of the Netherlands international.

Instead, 23-year-old Kounde is now in Chelsea's sights, likely as a long-term solution after also securing 31-year-old centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for a fee reportedly just shy of £34million.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA ENTER THE KOUNDE RACE

Kounde has already racked up 150 games of top league experience between his time with Bordeaux in Ligue 1 and Sevilla in LaLiga, and is expected to cost in the range of £56million, according to ESPN.

The France international, with 11 senior caps for his country, also has an impeccable injury history, tallying 184 appearances in all club competitions in just the past four seasons, with no significant injuries.

Chelsea will be mainly competing against Barcelona, with the Spanish giants reportedly already agreeing to personal terms with Kounde, and reports claim they are willing to exchange Memphis Depay or Sergino Dest to get a deal done.

Barcelona may be unable to afford the move unless Sevilla are willing to take back a player, as their £65m deal for Raphinha and their chase of Robert Lewandowski could restrict their financial flexibility

ROUND-UP

Aston Villa have placed a £20million price tag on 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka to try to fend off interest from Manchester United, Manchester City and Newcastle United, according to Talksport.

– The Athletic is reporting that 29-year-old Jesse Lingard is considering a highly paid move to Saudi Arabia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal are set to agree to personal terms with Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko.

– Sky Sport in Germany claims Bayern Munich are close to securing Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt for around €80million.

– The Independent is reporting that William Saliba will try to push his way out of Arsenal if he is not guaranteed a place in Mikel Arteta's starting line-up, with Marseille and Atletico Madrid named as interested parties.

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    Christensen was substituted out of the game in the 58th minute after struggling for a few minutes with the issue and Barcelona have since confirmed the left ankle injury.

    The club said further tests would be carried out on Wednesday to ascertain the full extent of the injury.

    Christensen's injury comes ahead of tough games, taking on Celta Vigo in La Liga this weekend, before the reverse fixture with Inter on October 12 and the Clasico against Real Madrid on October 16. The Blaugrana take on Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga after that.

    The ex-Chelsea defender was replaced by veteran Gerard Pique, who will likely come into starting calculations.

    Christensen has started three LaLiga matches and all three of Barcelona's Champions League matches this term.

    The 26-year Denmark international joins Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Hector Bellerin, Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo on the sidelines at Camp Nou due to injury.

  • Under-fire Inzaghi bullish that Inter's win over Barcelona 'marks the beginning of something' Under-fire Inzaghi bullish that Inter's win over Barcelona 'marks the beginning of something'

    Under pressure Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi is optimistic that Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona "marks the beginning of something".

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    Instead Inzaghi, amid a school of thought he may lose his job if Inter lost to the Blaugrana on Tuesday, is looking for a new beginning for the Nerazzurri.

    "We'd been waiting a long time for this, I am happy for the fans and the club, but we’ve achieved nothing yet, it needs to be a wonderful night that marks the beginning of something," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

    "I wouldn't say it was unexpected. I said yesterday it was a great opportunity against one of the best teams in the world. We played with aggression, determination, as it’s the only way to beat these opponents."

    Inzaghi, who took over after Antonio Conte's split with the club following their 2020-21 Serie A title, lifted two trophies last season, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, but ultimately fell short in the race for the Scudetto to Milan.

    "I continue my work, there are moments that happen and I keep my head held high, because my staff, players and the club have done some great things over the last 15 months," he said.

    "I saw a squad that is solid and fights together, otherwise you don’t get a result like this. I am happy, but these lads are the same ones who gave me two trophies just a few months ago and they know more than anyone we now have ground to make up."

    Inter forward Lautaro Martinez promised Tuesday's result would usher in charge.

    "Tonight is a special evening because it was a victory we needed," the Argentine told Inter TV. "Because of the way it arrived we enjoy it even more.

    "We were in a period when the results were not coming, today we needed a win and it has arrived. From here on, things will change."

    Goal scorer Hakan Calhanoglu, who netted his first Champions League goal since September 2016, added: "This game can really shake us up and change our season, because we want to build on it.

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    After Hakan Calhanoglu put the Nerazzurri in front in first-half stoppage time at San Siro, Barcelona thought they had levelled when Pedri turned home from close range in the 66th minute.

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    "First they explain to us that Ansu Fati handled but another team-mate scored, then with the other incident, it is not clear what happened.

    "It is my opinion, I would have liked to speak to the referee, because he did not blow the whistle. At the moment, I am outraged, it is an injustice and it makes no sense.

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    "In general, it was a great injustice. I can't hide and say I'm not outraged, it's a great injustice. The referee should give explanations, instead he goes away and nothing happens. He has to come here and explain."

    Despite what he perceived as poor refereeing from Slavko Vincic, Xavi acknowledged that officiating alone was not to blame for the defeat.

    "We struggled in rhythm, in the circulation of the ball and in the last half hour we played better, we found good areas on the wing," he added.

    "We tried, we want to attack and we paid for the first half, we lacked a bit of rhythm. We need to be self-critical, beyond referee decisions.

    "The first half was not up to the Champions League. We talked about it at half-time, we needed more rhythm in the exchange of the ball and I think the second half was positive."

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