Thomas Tuchel reflects on Chelsea's pre-season defeat to Arsenal
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Chelsea have reportedly withdrawn from talks with Barcelona over the sales of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso in response to the Catalan giants hijacking their proposed move for Jules Kounde. The Blues have been targeting Kounde for over a year and finally appeared to have secured a deal to bring him to Stamford Bridge earlier this week after months of protracted negotiations with Sevilla.
Barcelona quickly moved to swoop in and turn Kounde’s head, though, and now find themselves in pole position to land the French defender in the not-too-distant future. Those in power at Chelsea have been left enraged by the situation and have taken revenge by swiftly ending talks with Barcelona with regards to Azpilicueta and Alonso, according to Sport.
It is claimed that Barcelona had been negotiating with the Blues over moves for both players, with Xavi having included the pair on his list of defensive targets for the new campaign. However, the ongoing saga involving Kounde has turned the situation on its head and Chelsea are now refusing to do business with their Spanish counterparts as a result of their conduct in their pursuit of the Sevilla man.
Azpilicueta’s long-term future at Chelsea was called into question towards the end of last season, with his current deal in west London set to expire next summer. He is thought to be keen on the idea of joining Barcelona in order to return to his country of birth, while Alonso shares a similar view and was believed to be in advanced talks with the five-time European champions until very recently.
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Both deals are off as things stand, though, with the bitter Blues in no mood to entertain Barcelona’s advances due to the latter club having gained the upper hand in negotiations with Kounde over the last few weeks. It remains to be seen if the Sevilla man will eventually be able to finalise his impending switch to the Nou Camp or if there will be any further twists to the tale in the near future.
Barcelona are said to have agreed a transfer fee with Sevilla but are yet to submit a formal bid due to their need to sell players before they can land additional reinforcements. They are reportedly trying to sell Frenkie de Jong to Manchester United but are being held back by the player’s desire to stay and a series of outstanding wage payments that are yet to be made to him.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are still believed to be in the market for a new defender but may be forced to let go of their interest in Kounde and chase other targets as a result of Barcelona’s late swoop. A handful of alternative names are said to be under discussion at Stamford Bridge, with Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe having been heavily linked with the Blues in recent weeks.
They are clearly frustrated by their apparent failure to rubber-stamp a move for Kounde, though, and have made their feelings known by ending all talks with Barcelona in the wake of recent developments. Only time will tell if Chelsea end up regretting their inability to land the 23-year-old, who registered 44 appearances in all competitions for Sevilla over the course of last season.
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