'Very interested': Chelsea to battle Manchester United for 25-year-old Barcelona defender in the summer

The summer transfer window is still a few months away but clubs are beginning to make a list of targets.

According to Sport, Barcelona centre-back Jules Kounde is back on the radar of both Chelsea and Manchester United. The 25-year-old French defender was strongly linked to Chelsea before he moved to Barcelona in the summer of 2022.

Since then, he's become a key player for the club, but sporting director Deco could need to move players on before making any signings to keep the club in line with financial rules.

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Both Chelsea and United are reported to be "very interested" in the former Sevilla defender, who could be available for transfer with the Blaugrana set to assess their options in defence.

Chelsea have had to navigate this season without Wesley Fofana, signed from Leicester to be the foundation of a new backline, but a damaging knee injury has essentially ruled him out for the entire campaign. The Blues have also been linked with Sporting CP defender Ousmane Diomande even though Kounde is seen as a more experienced version.

Man United manager Erik ten Hag is expected to rebuild his defence in the summer and with fellow defender Raphael Varane not getting any younger and the jury still out on Harry Maguire, a move for Kounde is being encouraged.

Kounde's preference is reported to be to remain at Barcelona, though he has indicated that he would prefer to play in his natural position at centre-back. The need for a centre-back at Chelsea has been further highlighted by the fact that 39-year-old Thiago Silva will leave the club in the summer.

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Thiago arrived under Frank Lampard to provide experience to a young squad, but he's more than exceeded expectations and helped the club to a Champions League title under Thomas Tuchel and continues to be a key member of the setup.

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