Jules Kounde £50m transfer risk provides Chelsea with perfect kickstart for Todd Boehly-Daniel Childs rebuild

It seemed inevitable that Jules Kounde would become a Chelsea player last summer. Personal terms had reportedly been agreed, a £45million fee negotiated by Marina Granovskaia with Sevilla and Kurt Zouma had been sold to West Ham to make room.

Thomas Tuchel reportedly briefed his players on the Frenchman’s imminent arrival and Kounde even traveled back to Paris at the final weekend of the transfer window to await the move he had been dreaming of.

Then everything changed. Sevilla’s stance hardened, suddenly urging the Blues to honor the £68million release clause or there would be no deal. The club’s director Monchi confirmed the change in a press conference as the clock ticked down. “The possibility that he can leave here before midnight is the same as with other colleagues who have release clauses. Just like [Lucas] Ocampos or Bono, we couldn’t do anything about that.”

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Chelsea didn’t come back. The late change in requirements meant Kounde had traveled to Paris for nothing, his dream train wiped out and he would start tweeting cryptic Drake texts in the days that followed, a sign of his disappointment.

Failure to land Kounde effectively opened the door for Trevoh Chalobah’s full breakthrough into the first-team squad, an event that secured his future at the club until 2026 and provided another internal solution through Cobham. But the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have meant the Blues need to invest in the window.

Almost 12 months since the deal fell through, it appears to be back on track, and this time there seems to be a general consensus that it’s going to get done. football.london understands Chelsea remain keen to sign the 23-year-old, who has been in the Blues’ sights for several years.

Kounde would become the first Todd Boehly-era player after buying the club post-sanctions and would secure a player who appears to fit the requirements of Thomas Tuchel’s system.

That’s not to say Kounde doesn’t have his critics. The price of a player feels high for a player who hasn’t had a flawless season, one who has displayed a short-tempered temper. Twice sent off in La Liga, largely for throwing the ball in Jordi Alba’s face in a draw with Barcelona in December.

Rudiger certainly walked a line with his aggression that served Chelsea best in his senior year. In a struggling league, this could go both ways and add a positive bite to a squad accused of being a bit lacking since Diego Costa’s departure in 2017.

His height was also cited as a concern as Kounde at 1.78m would not be the most imposing presence in a physically demanding league. However, it’s believed the defender sees this as a motivating factor in his move to Chelsea and the Premier League. As Cesar Azpilicueta, the player he’ll most likely play minutes for, he’s proven since 2012 that greatness doesn’t mean you can’t be an effective defender.

Interestingly, when you look at the numbers, Kounde’s header power fits in well with those who played on the right flank of Chelsea’s defense last season. After winning more aerial duels per 90 last year compared to Azpilicueta and Chalobah, only the outgoing Christensen could surpass him, according to FBRef.



Jules Kounde presses up and bullies, trying to intercept cleanly.
Jules Kounde presses up and bullies, trying to intercept cleanly.



As soon as Kounde wins the ball, he sprints forward into the opponent's half and launches an attack.
As soon as Kounde wins the ball, he sprints forward into the opponent’s half and launches an attack.

One of the things that make Kounde one of the preferred targets is his ability on the ball. Kounde uses his speed and dribbling ability to leapfrog challenges and march forward like many young defenders playing in Europe’s top leagues , and does not hesitate to join the attack. He ranks within the 90th percentile for progressive carries, accomplished dribbles and touches in the offensive box at his position.

Kounde also has higher accuracy on long passes over WyScout than Azpilicueta, Christensen and Chalobah, which is quite important considering the play changes of the back three that became essential in unleashing Chelsea’s two full-backs, than both Ben Chilwell and Reece James were fit .

This is quite important given the nature of Tuchel’s current system, which is aimed at possession control and using the back three to initiate moves from Edouard Mendy’s normally short goal kicks. Also, the pair’s mobility on the right with Reece James at full-back could give Tuchel much more freedom to take an attacking risk and move the pair fluidly depending on the game.



Kounde dresses as Vinicius Jnr.  back to his own lodge.  drives into the Seville box.
Kounde dresses as Vinicius Jnr. back to his own lodge. drives into the Seville box.



Kounde keeps close to Vinicius in the box before making a clean interception and risking conceding a penalty.
Kounde keeps close to Vinicius in the box before making a clean interception and risking conceding a penalty.

Kounde is by no means a full-back but he has played as a more conventional full-back for clubs and countries and in recent months we have seen the England defender used in a back three, a position he has always seemed comfortable in . However, Tuchel’s Switch has felt more out of convenience than experimentation with Azpilicueta’s weaknesses causing problems against fast attackers, something Kounde’s addition should mitigate.

Kounde, like other mentioned targets like Josko Gvardiol and academy products like Levi Colwill, are comfortable on the ball and are also proactive in the way they defend. Kounde regularly aims for interceptions but won’t rush in constantly, his level of interceptions not too dissimilar to Azpilicueta, a player who can also see similarities when defending his own box.



Jules Kounde starts a race with Alfonso Espino in the final moments of the game as Cadiz tries to counter.
Jules Kounde starts a race with Alfonso Espino in the final moments of the game as Cadiz tries to counter.



But Kounde is smart to get his body over Espino to win a foul and kill the danger.
But Kounde is smart to get his body over Espino to win a foul and kill the danger.

There are always risks in Kounde’s adaptability to a new league, one that will test him in new ways with a side that dominate the ball most weeks and are expected to win more than Sevilla. There are intangible factors in any transfer that no chart can sum up, his relationship with teammates, how he copes with a new environment and whether he has the character to deal with the setbacks and scrutiny that will undoubtedly come.

But as a target, Kounde ticks many boxes and can hopefully spark a summer makeover with consistent additions that match similar attributes that fit what Tuchel wants to do next season.

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