For several weeks, Barca appeared to be leading the race for the France international and were ready to submit an offer as soon as their latest financial ‘lever’ had been activated.
Chelsea, meanwhile, had been chasing other targets despite their long-standing interest in Kounde, but Matthijs de Ligt opted to join Bayern Munich instead and they could not agree a fee with Manchester City for Nathan Ake.
That saw them return to Sevilla with an offer worth around £55million, though Barca – who are not able to match that bid – still hoped Kounde would opt for a move to Camp Nou.
As happened with Raphinha, the Catalan club had asked the centre-back to inform his club that he was only prepared to join Barcelona – but he declined to do so.
Kounde has always been happy to move to Stamford Bridge and has had an agreement over personal terms in place for a year, with Chelsea having first pursued him last summer.
Barca had also asked the 23-year-old to delay any move until they were in a position to make an offer to Sevilla and his decision to go on their pre-season tour to Portugal – having initially been left out of the squad – suggested he was willing to do so.
But now Spanish newspaper Sport claim Kounde has given Chelsea the green light to complete a deal after he spoke with manager Tuchel.
The German coach has been described as ‘the key’ to unlocking the signing, with Tuchel selling the club to the defender and underlining the enormous efforts Chelsea’s hierarchy had been making to secure a deal.
As happened with Kalidou Koulibaly, Kounde was won over after being told about his role in the team and the project on offer at Chelsea, while Tuchel also allayed any fears about the change of ownership.
While Barca have not thrown in the towel yet, they are now resigned to missing out on Kounde and know they cannot match either the transfer fee or salary package Chelsea have put together.
Barca president Joan Laporta even suggested the club had given up on signing Kounde when he met a fan during the club’s pre-season tour in Las Vegas, saying: ‘He is going to sign for Chelsea.’
Sport’s report claims an agreement between Chelsea and Sevilla could come by the end of Friday now that Kounde has given the move the green light.
He is unlikely to be the last signing Chelsea make this summer, with Tuchel believed to still want one more centre-back as well as left-back cover and another new attacker.
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