Chelsea are close to completing the signing of Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, who will join the west London club for significantly less than his £90m release clause.
The 22-year-old arrived in La Liga two years ago for a fee of €25m, and he has gone on to shine for the Nervionenses. His performances have seen him recognised at international level by France, and he has become one of the most coveted defenders across Europe.
Kounde has been persistently linked with a move to the Premier League, and it appears that Chelsea have won the race to sign the sought-after Frenchman. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 22-year-old is very close to completing a move to Stamford Bridge, with the two clubs nearing an agreement on an initial fee of just £42.7m (€50m) plus add-ons.
90min learned that although Kounde's contract boasts a £77m (€90m) release clause, Chelsea had no intention of meeting that figure in a single payment due to financial fair play concerns. Instead they entered into negotiations with the Spanish club hoping to agree a structured payment deal worth £90m.
However, Chelsea are now close to agreeing a fee well below that figure. 90min understands this development has come because Sevilla would prefer to receive a lump sum now rather than instalments over a prolonged period, even though that structure would see them earn significantly more in the long-term.
Goal report the initial fee could be higher at £51m-£55m, but that still represents a substantial saving on such a coveted prospect for the Blues.
The main stumbling block for this deal has always been the transfer fee, as Kounde and the Blues had come to a swift agreement over personal terms for his proposed contract at Stamford Bridge back in July.
Chelsea have been forced to be patient in closing this deal, as they knew they had to offload some more stars before bringing in any fresh faces. Kounde's international teammate Kurt Zouma is the man set to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, with West Ham United his expected destination.
The escalation in that deal has led to Chelsea finally making their move to sign Kounde, who will add even more strength to a frighteningly deep squad.