Manchester City are closing in on the signing of Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde. The 21-year-old French defender has been with the Spanish side for just one season, joining the club from Bordeaux ahead of the 2019-20 season.
As per AS, City and Sevilla have been in talks, with the English club willing to pay €50 million for the youngster – double of what Sevilla paid just last year. City have been linked with moves for other centre-backs like Kaulidou Koulibaly and Jose Gimenez, but have refused to meet the valuations set by their respective clubs. Kounde’s release clause is set at €80 million and as things stand, the Sky Blues will have to improve on their current offer to have a chance at fortifying their backline for the season.
Monchi, Sevilla director about Koundé #MCFC deal: “We’ve turned down an important bid for Koundé because this is our mentality. If they’re gonna do another bid, we’ll listen and answer again. I doubt that he has agreed personal terms [with Man City] because he has a contract…”.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 21, 2020
Jules Kounde was a part of the Sevilla side that won the 2019-20 Europa League, defeating Inter Milan in the final of the competition.
Jules Kounde: A good fit in this City team?
Manchester City’s Achilles heel in the 2019-20 campaign was their defence as manager Pep Guardiola did not have first-choice centre-back, Aymeric Laporte, for a large part of the season. The backup options were not good enough, while the likes of Fernandinho, who was moved to the back, was also found out eventually.
Manchester City have already signed one centre-back in Nathan Ake, but the former Bournemouth star is seen as a backup option to Laporte or a player who could fill in at left-back. Jules Kounde, meanwhile, could line up alongside compatriot Aymeric Laporte, at the back for City.
Kounde, a right-footed player, could slot in at the back at City, and could make a difference to the team. The Frenchman positions himself well on the pitch to intercept or tackle, using speed and aggression to good effect. The 21-year-old presses aggressively, often going into the opposition’s half to press the man with the ball.
This is a quality that Guardiola loves in his players. Kounde often distributes the ball quickly to help build attacks from the back. Jules Kounde, despite not being the tallest, is also very good in the air – an aspect of Manchester City’s defending that has been found wanting over the last few years.
But having said that, his profile differs from what Pep Guardiola was looking for initially in Kalidou Koulibaly. In the Napoli man, City would have got a superstar defender, closer to Vincent Kompany’s stature and influence and someone who could have been a quick-fix.
Jules Kounde, meanwhile, is also highly-rated but a whole 8 years younger than one of their main targets. Hence, there will be lesser fanfare with his arrival, which could be a good thing as there will certainly be a settling-in period under Pep. If his career graph sees the expected trajectory, City could well have a solid long-term centre-back pairing in the form of Kounde and Laporte on their hands.