Jules Kounde’s future could still be at Manchester United after new developments in Seville have placed the Red Devils back in pole position to sign the defender.
Koundé is widely believed to be one of the names on the top of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s shortlist for a centre-back this summer, but Sevilla have so far insisted that any club must meet the Frenchman’s €80 million (£69m) buyout fee, which has put United off.
Spurs, Arsenal and Real Madrid have also all been in the mix for the talented 22-year-old, but none look likely to pay that amount and it has now emerged that the Andalusian side might have to climb down from their ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ price.
‘The Andalusian club needs to make a big sale if it wants to sign new players,’ Marca has revealed this morning.
‘Koundé and [Youssef] En-Nesyri will only go to a top team.
‘The last two summer markets … made it possible for an aggressive strategy to be undertaken. Buying above selling. Well above. And now it’s time to pay that bill.
‘The idea of Monchi and his team is to sell to some of the figures in the squad in order to strengthen. In fact, in a report published by MARCA, Sevilla are identified as one of the clubs that needs to generate capital gains this summer.
‘[But Koundé’s] termination clause (80 million) as a starting point … drives most clubs away.
‘Sevilla would sit down to negotiate anything above €60 million [£52m] (and try to reach 70 [£60m]).’
Well, well, well. Koundé’s price has suddly been reduced to the £50 million or so that Real are asking for Varane. That makes it a much more interesting situation and puts the younger star back very much in the frame for an Old Trafford switch.
But there’s more. If that wasn’t good enough news for United, there was even better to come.
‘There are clubs like Tottenham who want to propose a more realistic negotiation,’ Marca continues.
‘The problem is that Koundé wants to go out to take a sporting leap. [Spurs] will not be playing the Champions League. Problem.
‘The only English club that could convince Koundé, of those who have asked, is Manchester United, who are very active on the market.
‘For Koundé they would be a sporting leap, as well as an economic one.
‘There is no way he will extend his contract despite the current economic situation.
‘His intention is to leave this summer and Sevilla’s is to transfer him.’
If Spurs and, by implication, Arsenal, are out of the running, then that seems to leave Real Madrid as the only other interested party who could realistically foot the bill. However, los Blancos are only being linked with Koundé to replace Raphael Varane should he leave, and the only club that has been negotiating for the World Cup winner is United themselves.
However, talks are believed to have stalled for Varane, with the two clubs reportedly around €20 million apart in their valuations. This all means that United find themselves in a heads I win, tails you lose position: either Real come down on their asking price for Varane, or United go in for Koundé unopposed.