Sevilla president Jose Castro has warned Chelsea and other suitors of centre-back Jules Kounde that the Frenchman will not be sold for cheap.
Chelsea were chasing Kounde in the summer and believed they had secured a deal for around £45m, only to see Sevilla rebuff the interest late on in the transfer window. Despite that, Chelsea are expected to return with a fresh bid in the coming months, but both Manchester United and Real Madrid have also keen on landing Kounde as well.
Their hopes of getting a deal done appeared to be given a boost earlier this week when former Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido told Cope that the club were 'ruined' financially and debts are spiralling out of control, but Castro quickly ran to the media to bite back.
"To say that the club is ruined is ridiculous," Castro told AS. "Last season we had a surplus, after a season without season tickets or ticket sales.
"Yes, the losses would have been solved by selling Kounde, but we showed that we are financially powerful by not accepting €50m. To say that the club is ruined is not caring for the club."
Sevilla made it clear to Chelsea that the only way Kounde will leave the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium would be if the Blues get significantly closer to his release clause, which is €80m (£68m).
A bid of £60m was rumoured to be enough to get a deal done, but Chelsea declined to go that high, particularly given Trevoh Chalobah's transition from academy star to first-team option.
With Antonio Rudiger's future beyond this season uncertain and Thiago Silva recently turning 37, Chelsea are expected to return. But Real are growing increasingly confident of landing Kounde's signature and United continue to be linked despite landing Raphael Varane in the summer.
Kounde has been in predictably excellent form for Sevilla so far this season, helping the team keep clean sheets in four of his eight appearances.