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Three reasons why Barcelona pursued Kounde this summer



Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

After a lengthy pursuit and an intense transfer battle with Chelsea, Barcelona are set to usher in the signing of Jules Kounde from Sevilla.

The 23-year-old had been one of Xavi Hernandez’s top transfer targets this summer but his pursuit had been put on the backburner for a while, as Barça focused on the recruitment of Raphinha and robert Lewandowski.

With Chelsea ramping up their efforts to sign Kounde, Barcelona were forced to act swiftly and they did just that, first convincing the defender to snub Chelsea and wait for their offer. And after negotiations with Sevilla, the Catalans finally reached an agreement over a deal.

Kounde is all set to become a Barcelona player, with an announcement imminent. It has been reported that the Blaugrana will be shelling out a fee of €50 million plus €10 million in add-ons, with the 23-year-old set to sign a five-year deal worth €6 million per year contract.

Despite their financial situation not being the healthiest, Barcelona pushed hard to sign Kounde and here we look at three reasons why Xavi & co. were so intent on getting the French international onboard.

Barcelona’s defensive issues needed addressing

Barcelona mounted a strong comeback to finish second in La Liga, after a disastrous start to the season last time out. While the mental fortitude and fighting spirit was worth plaudits, it was clear that the Catalans had some major problems in the squad that needed to be addressed.

One of the main issues was a leaky defence, as Barça made it a habit of letting in goals at crucial junctures, with a lack of focus and organisation hurting them on several occasions. Only two teams in La Liga’s top-eight sides last season shipped more goals than the Catalans’ 38.

Ronald Araujo stood out with his hugely impressive displays but did not always receive adequate support from his teammates. Gerard Pique had his ups and downs while Eric Garcia’s debut season back in Catalonia was hardly anything to write home about.

And, it had become evident that the Blaugrana needed to bring in a top-quality defender before the new season, leading to the push for Kounde.

Long-term heir to Pique, potential compatibility with Araujo

Gerard Pique has been a wonderful servant for Barcelona over the years and will go down as an absolute legend. However, at 35, he is very much in the final phase of his career and the Catalans needed to start phasing him out and putting in place a succession plan for the veteran.

Gerard Pique is in the final phase of his career (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Pique had some exceptional performances last season, but he was bogged down by chronic injuries towards the end of the campaign, which raised further concerns on whether he can be relied upon by the manager ahead of the new season.

Given the situation, the time seemed right for Barcelona to move on from the old guard and usher in a new era, with Kounde set to take over as Pique’s heir.

Speaking of a new era, both Kounde and Ronald Araujo are just 23 years of age and can become mainstays at the heart of the Barça backline for a long time and forge a formidable partnership.

While the pair are similar in some aspects of their games, they also provide contrasting attributes to the table. Araujo’s aggressive defending, coupled with Kounde’s technical ability, could make for an exciting partnership.

Competition for his signing

Jules Kounde has been one of the best-performing defenders in Spain since his arrival from Bordeaux in 2019. Naturally, the Frenchman attracted the interest of several heavy-hitters from all over Europe.

Chelsea’s pursuit of the 23-year-old is well-documented. But at the same time, he was also on the radars of several other top clubs like Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona’s arch-rivals, Real Madrid, had also been linked heavily with him at one point until they decided to sign Antonio Rudiger.

Losing a top talent and a key transfer target of manager Xavi to a continental rival at a time when Barça’s own defence needed fixing would have been a bitter pill to swallow. It is why the Blaugrana pushed hard for the French international’s signing and have now achieved their target.

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