Manchester City are looking to continue an overhaul of their defensive ranks this summer and are now believed to have improved their offer for emerging Sevilla centre-back Jules Koundé, which could also now include Nicolas Otamendi in part-exchange.
Following the departure of Vincent Kompany last summer and a long-term injury to Aymeric Laporte, City were let down by defensive frailty in the Premier League in 2019/20. They conceded 35 in 38 games, compared to 23 and 27 in the two preceding campaigns.
City have already brought in Nathan Aké for £40m from Bournemouth and are still hopeful of striking a deal for established Napoli star Kalidou Kouliably, although are reluctant to enter a bidding war for the 29-year-old should other clubs formalise their interest.
Uruguay international Jose Giménez is another centre-back to have taken City’s fancy this summer. Atletico Madrid president Enrqiue Cerezo has claimed that an €85m (£78m) offer was made, but confirmed there is no interest in selling the player.
“Yes we received the offer,” Cerezo told radio station Onda Cero. “But Giménez is a magnificent player and we are interested in having magnificent players in the team.”
John Stones and the aforementioned Otamendi no longer seem favoured by Pep Guardiola. Stones started alongside Ake in the club’s Premier League opener against Wolves, but largely as a result of few other options – Laporte was absent and Fernandinho returned to midfield in light of Ilkay Gundogan’s testing positive for coronavirus ahead of the game.
It makes another centre-back an important addition with a view to the long-term and City are seemingly refusing to give up on Koundé, despite Sevilla’s high valuation.
One bid worth €55m (£50.4m) is already thought to have been rejected for the 21-year-old, who excelled in his debut season in Spain following a 2019 transfer from Bordeaux and was a regular en-route to Sevilla finishing fourth in La Liga and winning the Europa League (again).
According to La Razon, City have now gone back with an improved offer. Sevilla are said to have hung their valuation of Koundé on his €90m (£82.5m) buyout clause – a figure that would make him the most expensive defender in the world.
But City are said to have put forward €70m (£64m) plus Otamendi instead. That would at least ensure Sevilla are under no pressure to bring in a replacement for Koundé because Otamendi would fill that role. It could be an important detail as it is highlighted some of the players Sevilla have considered have already moved elsewhere, like Marash Kumbulla and Axel Disasi.