Manchester United could be set for a fight if they are to secure the signing of £60 million rated defender Jules Kounde this summer, with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona also keen.
The 22-year-old has emerged as one of Europe’s top central defenders in recent seasons, with his displays in both La Liga and in the Champions League catching the eye of a number of Europe’s elite.
The centre-back helped current club Sevilla to the Europa League title last season, with the Spanish side overcoming Manchester United in the semi-final before going on to beat Inter in the final.
That display against the Red Devils seemingly caught the eye of the United hierarchy, with the Premier League side reportedly viewing the player as one of their top targets this summer.
According to the Sun, however, United are not alone in their admiration for the player, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona joining the race for his signature.
The former Bordeaux man – who moved to Spain in 2019 – won’t exactly come cheap, however, with it being reported that any interested party will have to fork out over £60m to prize him from Seville.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have already spent £80m on the signing of Harry Maguire back in 2019, yet the club are still looking for a suitable partner for the England international, with neither Eric Bailly nor Victor Lindelof managing to truly impress.
Compared to other centre-backs across the top-five leagues, Jules Koundé ranks in the 90th percentile or above for aerial duels won, shots taken, dribbles attempted, carries into the attacking third/penalty area, and touches in the attacking third/penalty area. Different. pic.twitter.com/bzRiTvyaoD
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) February 12, 2021
Kounde is not the only promising, young French defender that United have been linked with in recent times, with RB Leipzig Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano both having been rumoured as potential targets, although the latter has now agreed a deal to join Bayern Munich.
As for Madrid, their interest in Kounde has been sparked by the potential departure of first-choice centre-back pair Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos this summer.
Spain international Ramos is yet to agree to a new deal at Los Blancos and has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, his current contract set to expire in June.
As for Varane, the 27-year-old’s existing deal is set to run out in 2022, with the Spanish side wary of losing him for free in 18 months time.
Like rivals Barcelona, however, the potential price tag could be an issue, with both sides having been severely impacted by the financial losses attributed to the ongoing pandemic.
La Blaugrana, in particular, are in a difficult economic situation, yet an underwhelming campaign thus far may trigger a dip into the transfer market this summer.
Barca are expected to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia on a free transfer at the end of the season, though with long-time defensive mainstay Gerard Pique now 34, there is a real need for further reinforcements, with Kounde viewed as ‘a long-term replacement’.