Earlier in the summer, Xavi Hernandez had confessed his wish to bring in another quality centre-back in addition to Andreas Christensen, amid worries over the longevity of Gerard Pique.
The Barcelona coach subsequently identified two desired targets in the form of Jules Kounde and Kalidou Koulibaly.
While Kounde was a premium option, not just for Barça but for any top club in Europe, Koulibaly was always seen as a viable cost-effective alternative, who also brings loads of experience to the table.
However, according to French journalist Fabrice Hawkins, Barcelona are on the verge of losing out on the pursuit of Koulibaly this summer. It appears the defender is closing in on a move to Chelsea, which could put an end to a long-running transfer saga.
Hawkins suggests Koulibaly is expected to sign a three-year contract with the Premier League giants, with the club expected to pay a fee of around €40 million.
Chelsea being forced to pay up such a hefty figure comes as no surprise, as they have had to indulge in negotiations with the notorious Aurelio Di Laurentiis. The Napoli president is known for his tough negotiation skills, and it appears he has succeeded in squeezing the most of Koulibaly.
The Senegalese international’s current contract at Napoli expires at the end of next season. It had left the Partenopei with no option but to either sanction a sale this summer or let the player leave the club for free in 2023.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are unlikely to be fazed by Koulibaly’s move to Chelsea. In fact, the transfer could potentially lead to the Blues relinquishing their pursuit of Kounde, who remains a top target for Barça.
Although the Catalans still have a long way to go before they can reach an agreement with Sevilla, there is certainly hope in the Barcelona camp.