‘I preferred Xavi’s speech to Tuchel’s’

Jules Kounde chose to sign for Barcelona rather than Chelsea because “he preferred Xavi’s speech” to Thomas Tuchel’s.

The French international looked set to sign for Chelsea during the most recent transfer window, only to sign a five-year deal at the Camp Nou.

Sevilla’s sporting director, Monchi, suggested at the time that Barça pounced on Koundé after Chelsea withdrew their offer for “having doubts”.

However, in an interview with French outlet L’Equipe, Kounde insisted the decision was his after being courted by Barca head coach Xavi.

“First I have come to a huge club, which has known good times and which, lately, has had fewer,” he said.

“I come to a project that I would not call reconstruction, because we already have a competitive team, but to be focused.

“I was interested in being part of this new wave, in search of titles, and putting Barça back where it has always been, among the best clubs.

“Then there was the conversation with the coach. We talked about football. I felt real confidence from him, that he had real knowledge of me, my game and my qualities.

“I spoke with Tuchel and I also felt that he wanted me to come, but I just preferred Xavi’s speech.”

Chelsea got off to a slow start to the 2022-23 season and recently ended Tuchel’s 20-month tenure.

Meanwhile, despite their high-profile financial problems, Barca have made a strong start to the campaign and are two points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after six games.

Kounde was signed by Barcelona at the end of August, a month after joining, and has helped the Catalan giants to four clean sheets in his five appearances.

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In fact, the five clean sheets that Barça has kept in its first six league games is a tally that did not reach until 21 games played last season.

And Kounde, one of two defenders alongside teammate Alejandro Balde to have provided two assists in a single LaLiga game this season, thinks he suits Xavi’s style well.

“When I spoke to Xavi, he told me that my qualities correspond to his game plan, starting from the back, playing high, using my qualities of speed and anticipation,” Kounde said.

“He also wants an aggressive team, we are one of the teams that pushes high.

“He saw me in this system and I also saw myself in this team that I saw make a pretty crazy rise up the table last season.

“With Sevilla we were 15 points ahead of them in the middle of the season. Xavi arrived and I saw the changes he made and in what direction he was going. I liked”.

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