Chelsea linked with surprise player-plus-cash move for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde

Chelsea are pursuing Jules Kounde
Chelsea are pursuing Jules Kounde / Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Chelsea are among the sides interested in Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, and are said to be considering launching a player-plus-cash bid for the Frenchman.

Kounde is seen by many as one of the game's best young defenders, with his form also attracting admiring glances from Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid, but his £69m release clause has kept him in Sevilla for the time being.

Jules Kounde
Kounde is high on United's wish list / Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Sources have confirmed to 90min that United are incredibly keen on Kounde and are optimistic about the chances of driving his asking price down, and AS state that Chelsea are now hoping for something similar.

To try to avoid paying that full figure for Kounde - the Blues remain in the £150m race for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and want to save money elsewhere - Chelsea are contemplating giving Sevilla the choice of a handful of players in exchange.

The names on the list are a real mixed bag. Unwanted loanees like Michy Batshuayi and Tiemoue Bakayoko are there, while reserve goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could also be offloaded, but two surprising additions are striker Tammy Abraham and attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech.

Hakim Ziyech
Ziyech has been linked with an exit / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Of the bunch, it's Ziyech's inclusion which raises eyebrows. The Moroccan playmaker, who snubbed a move to Sevilla in 2019, only joined the club last summer in a deal worth up to £37m, although he is yet to hit the heights expected of him.

In 28 appearances in all competitions, Ziyech has bagged just four goals and four assists - form which has seen him struggle to hold down a permanent spot in the lineup under either Frank Lampard or current boss Thomas Tuchel.

To see Chelsea cut ties with Ziyech so soon would come as an enormous surprise, although Blues officials may see it as a necessary blow to ensure they can bolster their back line with Kounde.

Jules Kounde
Chelsea are considering their options for Kounde / Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Chelsea will likely try and include their unwanted players first. Batshuayi, Bakayoko and Arrizabalaga could all be sold this summer anyway, so the chance to use them in a deal for perhaps the best young defender around should not be missed.

An opening bid is expected to arrive from Stamford Bridge in the near future, and by the sounds of it, it could be quite a surprising one.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!