Chelsea risk repeating Jules Kounde’s costly transfer mistake with Romelu Lukaku loan talks

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Chelsea supporters had been deprived of any real transfer news for much of the summer of 2021. Yet as August approached – and with the new season on the horizon – news emerged that the European champions were close to agreeing a transfer for a much-loved defender: Jules Koundé.

Personal terms had been agreed on a five-year contract; no problem there. The next step was to submit an offer to the centre-back’s club, Sevilla. It was hoped that a bid of over £43m would be enough. Unfortunately, this did not prove the case. Still, Chelsea remained confident and put the transfer on the back burner as they finalized a club-record deal for Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian’s £97.5m return from Inter Milan was completed on August 13. Chelsea still had plenty of time to secure Kounde’s services – and they tried to do so despite the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah under Thomas Tuchel during pre-season.

READ MORE: When Romelu Lukaku expects to leave Chelsea as loan talks with Inter Milan continue

Yet, as the transfer window neared its conclusion, Sevilla raised their asking price and ultimately decided the France international would not leave unless his £68m release clause was paid. That’s when Chelsea halted their pursuit and focused on what they had for the rest of the 2021/22 campaign.

Kounde wasn’t the happiest with Sevilla and admitted his failed move to Stamford Bridge affected him in the early weeks of the season. Talk to Telefoot in November, he said: “Did my failed transfer to Chelsea this summer affect me? Yes, a little, but now it’s digested.”

The 23-year-old featured 44 times for Sevilla across all competitions last term. Chelsea, meanwhile, have maintained their interest and are expected to launch a move for Koundé ahead of this summer’s transfer window. However, sanctions imposed on former owner Roman Abramovich – under which the Blues were to operate until they were taken over by the consortium led by Todd Boehly – scuttled that plan.

Fortunately for Chelsea, Kounde remained invested in a move to Stamford Bridge and football.london understands he’s keen to take on the challenge of the English game – at 5ft 10in, the Frenchman wouldn’t possess the traditional physical profile of a Premier League centre-back.

The verbal terms of a contract have long been agreed with Kounde; his move is solely dependent on Chelsea and Sevilla reaching an agreement on a fee. That didn’t happen – possibly because the centre-back had to undergo surgery on Tuesday for a minor pelvic injury sustained at the start of last season.

And this week, Lukaku’s future once again took center stage for Chelsea in the transfer window. The striker intends to return to Inter Milan on loan after a disappointing campaign at Stamford Bridge and formal talks began on Wednesday between the Blues and the Serie A side.

All the while, as was the case last summer, Koundé continues to wait for his move to become a reality. In the end, Chelsea are playing with fire. Yes, the French defender has made it clear that he would like to move to West London but Barcelona have shown interest despite their financial difficulties.

The last thing Chelsea need – especially as they’re down to two centre-backs – is to miss out on Kounde because they’ve once again spurned an acceptable offer. It also wouldn’t make a good impression on the club’s new co-owner Todd Boehly, who gave Tuchel the license to shape the Blues’ transfer targets this summer.

As the old saying goes: fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.

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