Heading into the summer window, Barcelona had Jules Kounde at the top of the list of their centre-back targets. Manager Xavi Hernandez was intent on signing the Frenchman from Sevilla as a long-term replacement for veteran star Gerard Pique.
It was not easy, as Chelsea pushed them all the way in the battle, but Barcelona eventually triumphed in the race, getting the 23-year-old’s signing over the line in a deal worth €50 million.
Kounde had to wait for a while for his official Barça debut as the club faced problems with his registration. But once those issues were resolved, the French international has already made a huge impression, even though he has been asked to play at right-back on occasions.
Speaking in an interview with El Pais, Kounde admitted that his favourite position is centre-back, but he is more than willing to play wherever the team needs him.
“It is my favourite position and the one I like to play in. Xavi knows it. I am never going to refuse to play, but since my formative stage I have always been a central defender and I consider that it is the position in which I have many more concepts,” he said.
Talking about his move to Barcelona and the motivation that comes with playing for a club of this size, Kounde added: “I hate losing. I think it’s something that comes from when I was little. We have made several signings and the fans have been excited.”
The 23-year-old also admitted that he had been approached by Manchester City in the past, with Pep Guardiola even speaking to him to convince him about a transfer to the Etihad.
“Yes, in my first year in Seville, Guardiola called me. He told me he loved me and that he believed I would fit in with the way he played,” he said.
While Kounde did not move to Etihad back then, he was won over by Xavi this past summer as the Barcelona manager played a key role in the French ace snubbing Chelsea for the Catalan club.
“I talked a lot about football with both of them. I realized that they had both seen me play and knew my abilities perfectly. They weren’t just talking: they were very precise conversations,” Kounde said, about his chats with both Guardiola and Xavi.
Barcelona face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday and Kounde expressed confidence about his team’s chances against the Bavarians, saying:
“We know that they are a very strong team in all lines. A champion. But I’m sure we’ll compete very well. We have everything we need to win both games. We trust ourselves.”