Chelsea get huge boost in transfer chase for £68m Rudiger replacement

Chelsea appear to have been handed an important boost in their long- running pursuit of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.

Standard Sport understands that the French international remains a key transfer target at Stamford Bridge, where a considerable defensive rebuild will be required this summer once restrictions are lifted and the sale of the club by Roman Abramovich is complete.

Thomas Tuchel confirmed after Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham that Antonio Rudiger would be leaving Chelsea on a free transfer this summer – likely for Real Madrid – after rejecting the chance to become the highest-paid defender in club history on £230,000 a week, with the sanctions imposed on Abramovich by the UK Government leaving them unable to “fight any more”.

It is the same story for Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen, who is expected to join Barcelona when his own Blues contract expires in June.

Chelsea’s new owners are likely to be left footing an immediate transfer bill of at least £100million once an expensive buyout of Abramovich is complete in order just to compensate for the loss of two influential defenders, before they can even think about trying to strengthen further and narrow the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool above.

Chelsea have been targeting Kounde and Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, with the club confident that they can strike a deal with Sevilla for the former having failed to do so last summer after declining to match his £68m release clause on deadline day.

Now the Press Association report that Kounde has told the LaLiga club that he remains determined to leave for pastures new after missing out on a move to Chelsea in 2021.

Kounde has impressed at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium since arriving from Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux in a club-record €25m deal in the summer of 2019, making 128 appearances across all competitions and establishing a reputation as one of Spanish football’s most highly-rated defenders.

The 23-year-old – under contract at Sevilla for a further two seasons – has also earned nine senior caps for France, forming part of Didier Deschamps’ squad for the delayed European Championship last summer.

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