Like Chelsea, Sevilla began their season with a straightforward 3-0 victory at home, and like Chelsea, they did so with a surprise starter on the right side of the three-man backline. For Sevilla, that player was Jules Koundé. For Chelsea, that player was Trevoh Chalobah, whose first-team fate may depend in many ways on Jules Koundé.
Chelsea had been heavily linked with the 22-year-old France international, but those talks cooled amid all the Romelu Lukaku excitement. Meanwhile, Chalobah has emerged with a very strong claim on a first-team spot, and Chelsea were already finding it difficult to figure out a move for Kurt Zouma to free up a spot.
In fact, following the win over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, which was Koundé’s first match action in almost two months, since the Euros, Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui made it sound like those talks aren’t coming back anytime soon.
“I don’t have the feeling that this is his last game. There is nothing that tells me that he will not continue with us. He played a very good game.
“Things can happen until the August 31 [deadline]. We need to strengthen positions and we are working on it.”
-Julen Lopetegui; source: Marca via Google Translate
Sevilla had been standing firm on their €70-80m asking price for Koundé, and without wanting any player in part-exchange to help lower that fee. Chelsea had offered Zouma, among others, but Sevilla weren’t biting.
Zouma did have interest from other teams as well, including West Ham, which could’ve been helpful — and may yet be helpful if the most recent rumors in that regard are true. The Hammers are apparently reconsidering their unwillingness to pay a decent fee.
West Ham still not given up on Kurt Zouma. But Chelsea are asking for £25m and his wage demands are high. Selling Zouma helps Chelsea's pursuit of Jules Kounde – they need to shift a centre-back #cfc #whufc— Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) August 16, 2021
The lack of long-term contracts in the defensive backline (other than Chalobah) continues to further complicate things, even if Antonio Rüdiger remains in talks for one, and Andreas Christesen presumably does, too.
With two weeks to go in the transfer window, there is still time for a last-minute scramble in this department, though hopefully whatever happens (Zouma out, Koundé in, etc.), we make sure that Chalobah stays with the first-team.