DEFENDER Jules Kounde has paved the way for a move to Chelsea this summer by telling Sevilla he remains determined to leave the Spanish club.

France defender Kounde saw a long-mooted transfer to Chelsea fall apart last summer, after Sevilla refused to let the highly-rated centre-back leave for less than his 80million euros release clause.

Chelsea thought they had a deal wrapped up, only for Sevilla to dig in at the last with the switch falling through just before the summer’s transfer window closed.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Antonio Rudiger, left, will leave Chelsea in the summerAntonio Rudiger, left, will leave Chelsea in the summer

Antonio Rudiger’s impending free transfer move to Real Madrid leaves Chelsea requiring senior central defensive reinforcement however. Andreas Christensen’s summer Barcelona switch adds further urgency to the Blues’ situation, though highly-rated teen defender Levi Colwill could stake a claim to join the senior squad in pre-season.

Chelsea cannot make any new signings or complete fresh contract terms with existing players under the club’s UK Government sanctions.

The club’s sale should be complete next month however, allowing Chelsea bosses to revert to business as usual. Chelsea have lost clear ground in the transfer market due to the club’s licensing constraints as a result of the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich.

But Stamford Bridge chiefs still hope to be able to compete in the summer’s transfer window, leaving Kounde among the club’s top targets.

Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi gave a deadline-day press conference on August 31 last summer, unravelling in detail how 23-year-old Kounde’s Chelsea move collapsed.

Chelsea have never let their interests in the nine-cap France defender wane and will be expected to step up efforts to recruit the centre-back once the club’s sale is complete.

Kounde was frustrated by Sevilla blocking his Chelsea move last year, but has still delivered on the field, with Julen Lopetegui’s side sitting third in LaLiga.

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