Julen Lopetegui says Chelsea failed in their pursuit of Jules Kounde as they did not reach Sevilla’s valuation of the defender this summer.
Thomas Tuchel had hoped to bring in a centre-back before the transfer deadline – with Kurt Zouma joining West Ham on deadline day – and Chelsea pushed hard to land Kounde, 22, the man they identified as their top target at the start of the summer.
And while the Blues left it late to complete a loan deal for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez.
They saw their final bid for Kounde rejected with Sevilla intent on keeping hold of the Frenchman, widely regarded as one of the finest young defenders in European football.
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Lopetegui said he would have been powerless to Kounde leaving had the Champions League winners offered enough for Sevilla’s prized possession.
‘Kounde in the end has stayed because the club has decided that it was the right thing to do based on the evaluation of the offers they may have had,’ the Sevilla head coach told Diario de Sevilla.
‘For me, as a coach, that Jules stays is positive.
‘With the evolution he has had in these two years, it is positive, without any doubt.
‘We trust that he’ll continue to grow with us and, above all, perform, which is the most important thing.’
It’s understood Chelsea’s final offer for Kounde was around €50million (£42.8m), but Sevilla were demanded closer to €80m (£68.5m) for the sought-after France international.
The Premier League giants have not given up hope of capturing the former Bordeaux centre-half, though, and are expected to return with a follow-up bid for in January.