Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui has revealed that Chelsea were unable to sign Jules Kounde before Tuesday’s transfer deadline because their offers did not satisfy the La Liga club’s demands.
The Blues chased a move for Kounde throughout the summer window but were ultimately left empty-handed in their search for a new central defender.
The 22-year-old was understood to be near the top of Thomas Tuchel’s wish list, with the German boss keen to add reinforcements at the back during the summer.
Chelsea reportedly agreed personal terms with Kounde last month but the European champions were reluctant to meet his release clause, which is believed to be in the region of £77million.
The Frenchman was unable to join the Blues as a result and is said to have been left frustrated by the failure of his proposed Premier League switch.
Lopetegui has since admitted that Chelsea’s tight-fisted approach prevented the move from going ahead, with the Sevilla boss insisting that he was delighted to retain the services of Kounde until January at least.
“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,” Lopetegui told Diario de Sevilla.
“And for me, as a coach, that Jules stays is positive, without any doubt. The templates are made in all positions and that Jules is there, with the evolution he has had in these two years, it is positive, without any doubt.
“We trust that he continues to grow with us and, above all, to perform, which is the most important thing.”
It remains to be seen whether Chelsea will eventually go back in for Kounde in January or at the end of the current season.
He has established himself as one of Europe’s finest young defenders in recent years, turning plenty of heads with his cultured range of passing and impressive versatility.
The defender is ‘furious’ with Sevilla over their reluctance to sell him to Chelsea and has been ignoring calls from Lopetegui and club director Monchi since the end of the transfer window, according to reports in Spain.
Although a move for Kounde proved to be a step too far, Chelsea boss Tuchel recently declared that he was satisfied with the club’s summer business as he looks to mount a renewed Premier League title challenge over the coming months.
“I am absolutely happy with our squad and the alternatives we have,” the Blues boss told reporters.
“That means we maybe don’t have the biggest squad but that we have a very competitive squad in all positions.
“This, on one hand, is necessary because we play a lot of competitions and we play the World Club Cup in December. We also played very long last season and there was the Euros and Copa America.
“So if we want to compete we need this level. But at the same time, it’s also important we’re a strong group, this was maybe the key for the last half a year.
“We played with a strong bond and a great team spirit. This is a challenge for the team and for me to create this atmosphere again, and that everybody is ready to take hard decisions and keep pushing the team.
“If we do this, we can achieve more than we have.”