Chelsea 'in pole position' to land Jules Kounde and could offer one of five stars in swap transfer for Sevilla defender

CHELSEA are reportedly willing to offer Hakim Ziyech to Sevilla in a player-plus-cash deal to bring Jules Kounde to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues are understood to be in the market for a centre-back in the summer, with AS stating that Thomas Tuchel has identified the 22-year-old as an option.

SunSport exclusively revealed last month that Manchester United were eyeing up a move for Kounde to pair him alongside Harry Maguire.

But Spanish media have claimed that the West Londoners are in pole position to secure the Frenchman's services.

They have declared that Chelsea are unwilling to activate his £69million release clause, and will instead try to drive the price down by offering one of five players as well as cash.

Moroccan playmaker Ziyech – who only joined the Premier League side from Ajax last year – is said to be one squad member Chelsea would be open to letting go.

The 28-year-old has failed to live up to expectations since moving to England.

He has chipped in with just one goal and three assists in 17 top-flight games, with his last strike coming in the 3-0 win away at Burnley in October.

Other players who could reportedly be used in any swap deal are Tammy Abraham, Cesar Azpilicueta, Michy Batshuayi and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Kounde is widely regarded as one of Europe's most promising defenders since bursting on the scene at Bordeaux during the 2017-18 season.

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The France youth international is in his second campaign in Seville, where he helped Julen Lopetegui's side win the Europa League last campaign.

He was heavily linked with a switch to Manchester City last year with the Citizens having a £46million offer rejected, leading them to sign Ruben Dias from Benfica.

Speaking at the time, Sevilla chief Monchi said: "An offer from English football has arrived, we have assessed it and rejected it.

"Although it is more than double the investment we made 12 months ago, we consider it to be insufficient. If more offers arrive, we will assess it and decide, as we always do.

"We are not afraid to sell, because that is what we have done over the last two decades and that is what has allowed us to grow.

"It is our model, selling in order to grow. But we want to sell for a significant amount so that we can reinvest those amounts in new players who in turn improve the squad."

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