Manchester United reportedly could hijack Chelsea’s plans by activating Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde’s £69m release clause in January.
The Frenchman has been a key target since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at the London-based club and has been monitoring his progress throughout the past year.
Multiple sources claimed that Chelsea were one step away from signing the player but a move never materialised.
According to the Daily Mail, the La Liga club are fearful that United could be planning a swoop for the centre-back in January.
Last summer, the Champions League winners made a £42.5m offer for the 22-year-old but the club remained adamant that he was not to be sold unless the release clause was met.
Tuchel still remains interested in the defender and the club included him in the shortlist, along with Matthijs De Ligt who currently plays for Italian giants Juventus.
This may be a worrying time for the Chelsea manager as the main source of interest is coming from the Red Devils instead of the club that initiated the curiosity into the player.
This is after a terrible start to the season in a defensive sense, with United conceding seven goals at home in the previous two matches.
The club signed Raphael Varane in the summer but he hasn’t yet been able to kick on after a couple of minor injuries in recent weeks, and the club now wants to sign another centre-back.
Chelsea already have a defender crisis with Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, and Andreas Christensen set to leave at the end of the season unless they can be tied down to new contract deals.
United currently sit in sixth place in the Premier League after four defeats and will be assessing their options once again in January.
A defender will be a priority considering the goals conceded throughout the season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also started to use a back three in recent weeks meaning there is a need to extend the club’s current options at the back.
Kounde has helped his club achieve six clean sheets in the 10 matches he has appeared in this season.