Manchester United have been dealt a transfer blow in the last 24 hours after it emerged that FC Barcelona have joined the race for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde.
The 22-year-old’s performances at the heart of Sevilla’s defence have attracted the attention of Unite boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is seeking to find a more natural partner for captain Harry Maguire.
And the Frenchman’s recent comments that he was contemplating leaving the Andalusian side this summer fuelled speculation even more that a move to Old Trafford could be on the cards.
Real Madrid have already been linked with the £51 million-rated man, with the potential departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane on the horizon. But now, Mundo Deportivo claims that Barca have thrown their hat into the ring.
‘Barça scouted him specially to the point of confirming that he has a Barça profile,’ Mundo says.
‘In addition to Eric Garcia, Barça are looking for the arrival of another central defender. Umtiti does not want to leave but Koeman and the technical directors are looking for a replacement.
‘The problem is that with a contract until 2024, there is no money for signings unless there are exchanges involved.
‘Sevilla, in any case, assume he is leaving … any thesis is possible.
‘Barça have not taken any firm step.’
Mundo goes on to claim that Kounde’s €75 million (£65m) release clause is ‘prohibitive’.
With Sevilla adamant that they will not budge from that price, we are left with a situation of a player who wants to leave and no shortage of suitors, but a price that nobody can afford – a little like the Harry Kane situation at Spurs.
It may well be that a player exchange is the most likely means of departure for the Frenchman, although whether from United, Barcelona or Real Madrid, the player heading in the opposite direction would need to be persuaded to take a step down in terms of club prestige.
That may not be easy.