Real Madrid enter the race for Manchester United target Jules Kounde

by Scott Eckersley

Reports in Spain suggest that Real Madrid have entered the race for highly-prized Sevilla FC centre back Jules Kounde.

The 22 year old Parisian has “dazzled” La Liga fans with his “remarkable” impact at Sevilla, becoming a key ingredient in their impressive 4th place finish.

His performances have also caught the attention of France coach Didier Deschamps, who recently included the centre-back in his provisional squad for UEFA Euro 2021.

A physical presence at the heart of the Sevilla rear guard, Kounde has attracted the covetous glances of many of Europe’s top clubs; with Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all being linked with a swoop for his services.

However, the Spanish side are reluctant to lose the Frenchman and will insist that any interested parties meet his £70m release clause.

Manchester United’s ongoing defensive woes have ensured that Kounde’s name has been a permanent fixture among a growing list of centre back targets.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be in the market for a reliable partner for Harry Maguire and Kounde’s pace and aerial dominance would be a welcome addition to his creaky backline. Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe have all failed to fully convince, making the position an imperative for the summer transfer window.

However, manager-less Real’s interest could represent a damaging blow to Solskjaer’s plans.

With main man Sergio Ramos now 35 years old – and Raphael Varane reported to be on the move – their reported interest in Kounde makes sense.

To add a further layer of intrigue, United are also said to retain a long-term interest in Varane himself, making Kounde a possible replacement for his compatriot in an Anglo-Spanish transfer merry-go-round.

With the Spanish giants suffering from well-documented financial strains, it would seem unlikely that a big-money move for a centre-back would be a priority – unless they really are preparing for Varane’s departure.

United’s soft underbelly has been repeatedly exposed in the absence of captain Maguire, with the latest high-profile calamity taking place in Wednesday’s Europa League Final.

In that context, either Varane or Kounde would be a terrific addition to the squad, with Solskjaer looking to instil a defensive solidity that would galvanise the whole team and act as a bedrock in the fight for major future honours.

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