Manchester United have joined rivals Man City in the race for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, according to reports.
Kounde was a key player in Sevilla’s Europa League triumph last season. The young defender played 40 times in all competitions in his first season with the Spanish club.
Sevilla’s investment certainly seems to be paying off, with Kounde’s value skyrocketing. It only cost them €25m to sign him from Bordeaux, but is now valued at around €70m.
The France under-21 international is already attracting interest from clubs who could give him the next step. During the summer transfer window, he was reportedly a target for Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola was on the lookout for a new centre-back, and had identified Kounde as a potential option. It initially appeared that he was the main alternative to Kalidou Koulibaly.
However, the asking price for both players proved too high, so City signed Ruben Dias instead – in what was still a club record deal.
Top clubs have not forgotten about Kounde, though. According to ESPN, Manchester United have added him to their shortlist in case they want a defensive reinforcement.
United’s backline has come in for criticism recently, especially after they conceded six goals to Tottenham. Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s main options, but all three have struggled for consistency.
Therefore, ESPN claim it is not impossible that United sign a new defender in January. First, they must sell at least two of their other options in the position – with Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones the most likely to make way if a buyer comes in.
Once they have trimmed their squad in that department, they will consider a move for Kounde in either January or next summer.
The report also reveals that City opted for Dias instead of Kounde because the latter was an “unknown quantity”, having had just two full seasons as a professional.
Pau Torres also an option for United
Kounde is well aware of City’s interest, and has admitted that he was very happy to hear his name linked with the club.
“It’s part of my progression and I’m doing whatever it takes to make it happen,” he told Canal Plus.
“I was obviously happy [with City’s interest]. It would have been a good opportunity, but I’m in Seville and I’m very happy there.”
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If Kounde commits to Sevilla, then United would have to look for another option if they want to strengthen at the back.
According to ESPN, another alternative for United is Pau Torres, who has impressed for Villarreal in recent years.
The 23-year-old was linked with United back in July, when it was suggested that he could cost around €65m.
That valuation remains intact, but it does not appear to have put off United, who retain an interest in his services.
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