By Joe Moore
The future of Chelsea and Barcelona target Jules Kounde remains up in the air amid conflicting reports over his future on Saturday.
After claims emerged of a last-ditch agreement with Barcelona, Spanish media quickly shot down those rumours as ‘totally false’ – but it appears the LaLiga giants are still very much in the race.
On Friday, it was widely understood that Kounde was set to become a Chelsea player, with a £55million deal agreed with Sevilla.
However, by Saturday morning things appeared to have changed with suggestions Barca have swooped in to beat the Blues to their long-term target.
Spanish journalist Gerard Romero posted on Twitter: “This morning Barca and Sevilla have reached an agreement in principle for Jules Kounde.
“The deal is 99% closed, unless there is a cataclysm in the next few hours, the Sevilla centre-back will be a Barca player.”
There was a further twist to the story, though, with several Spanish sources insisting that news is not true.
Popular football-based TV show El Chiringuito soon commented: “The information about the transfer of Kounde to Barca is totally false. From Sevilla they describe them as a lie.
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“Everything that is coming out in the last hours is false.”
This was later backed up by a report from Mundo Deportivo, which claimed Sevilla have said they have had ‘zero contact’ from Barcelona for their player.
Attempting to clarify the situation, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said: “While Sevilla sources deny any agreement with FCB as negotiations are ‘only with Chelsea’, Barcelona are preparing an official bid to try and hijack the deal – as Gerard Romero reports.
“Chelsea, still waiting for Sevilla/Jules “green light” since Thursday.”
It all comes after Barcelona president Joan Laporta was recorded on Friday seeming to tell a fan that Kounde is on his way to Chelsea.
Whose information is correct remains to be seen, but talkSPORT’s Alex Crook joined the Weekend Sports Breakfast show on Saturday morning and admitted the Blues are in for a ‘few anxious hours’.
“This would be an incredible turn of events, because when I went to bed last night it looked like Chelsea were closing in on Koude, someone they’ve been trying to sign since last year,” said the talkSPORT reporter.
“A fee was agreed midweek with Sevilla, £55m and a five-year contract was on the table.
“That might still happen, but there are unconfirmed reports in Spain that Barcelona have been working to the midnight hour to put in a rival bid to Sevilla.
“The information we’ve been getting all week is that Sevilla didn’t want to sell to a LaLiga rival, they would prefer to send him to Chelsea, and the personal terms Chelsea are offering are better than what Barcelona can offer as well.
“But this will be cause for concern for Chelsea fans because they’ve already lost Raphinha to the Catalan club and if this one was to slip through their fingertips as well, they would start to worry about the new board’s ability to get deals over the line.
“They’ve been linked with a lot of players but at the moment it’s only Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly who have actually signed on the dotted line.
“So maybe a few anxious hours for Chelsea.”
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