JULES KOUNDE is stepping up his bid to join Chelsea’s revolution.
Sevilla’s French international defender is determined to play in the Premier League and fill the void in the Blues’ defence.
American tycoon Todd Boehly has finally been given the green light by the Government to buy Chelsea for £4.25billion from Roman Abramovich.
Kounde, 23, is also convinced he will be first choice next season following upheaval in the Blues’ defence.
Centre-backs Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have quit on free transfers.
Chelsea’s Spanish captain and right-back Cesar Azpilicueta is also keen to leave after ten years – which will leave a huge hole in the back line for boss Thomas Tuchel.
The Boehly-led consortium has been approved by No10 and passed the Premier League’s fit and proper persons’ test for ownership – paving the way for the long-awaited takeover to be completed.
That will end a Govt ban on transfers and release finance to buy new players, although Chelsea will still have a tough job landing their long-time target.
Sevilla have vowed to play hardball again and hold out for Kounde’s £68million release clause as they did during the January transfer window.
But the 2020 Europa League winners accept that their star centre-back wants a fresh challenge and talks are planned between Kounde and Sevilla sporting director Monchi to find a pathway out.
Sevilla are adamant they do not need to sell any players as they have qualified for next season’s Champions League.
Barcelona are also chasing Kounde and Sevilla would reluctantly rather do business with a foreign team than a direct rival in Spain’s LaLiga.
The transfer window opens on June 10 and Tuchel is anxious to start dealing as soon as possible to try to improve on Chelsea’s third-place finish this season.
Abramovich was subject to sanctions over his links to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and that placed severe financial restrictions on the club in addition to an outright ban on player deals.
The Government had voiced concerns over the potential terms of the deal, especially relating to the £1.6bn Abramovich loaned to the club over his 19-year reign.
Those were eventually overcome, with a foundation headed by former Unicef UK chief Mike Penrose being established to dole out the £2.5bn charitable funds to Ukrainian war victims.
Those funds will be frozen into a UK bank account until the Government are satisfied no sanctioned individuals, including Abramovich, will benefit from the sale.
Boehly’s consortium have given assurances they will commit the other £1.75bn to rebuild Stamford Bridge, team strengthening and continued investment in the Cobham academy and the club’s all-conquering women’s team.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: “Given the sanctions we placed on those linked to Putin and the bloody invasion of Ukraine, the long-term future of the club can only be secured under a new owner.
“We are satisfied the proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or other sanctioned individuals.
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“I want to thank everyone, especially officials who’ve worked tirelessly to keep the club playing and enable this sale, protecting fans and the wider football community.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he was “confident of a bright future” for Chelsea under the club’s new owners.