Chelsea have yet to make a major summer signing, following their excellent end to the season under Thomas Tuchel. There will be a desire to build from a position of strength and emerge as title contenders. They have been heavily linked with Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.
The Guardian report that Sevilla want a big fee for the Frenchman, with his release clause standing at €80 million. There had been hope to agree a deal worth €45 million plus Kurt Zouma. However, West Ham are now interested in Zouma and he has a preference to remain in London. There is plenty to do before Kounde arrives at Stamford Bridge.
That said, it is worth looking into how Kounde would fit in at Chelsea. The 22-year-old is considered one of the most exciting defensive talents in Europe. He has a lot of experience across two countries already, showing his adaptability.
During his short career to date, he has predominantly been used as a centre-back, but he has filled in at right-back. This will make him a great fit for Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 formation, as the right-sided centre-back is expected to cover in wide areas. Kounde will excel in that role should he sign and it may allow Tuchel to slowly phase Cesar Azpilicueta out of the starting eleven.
Kounde profiles as a defender that is comfortable in possession and would suit a team looking to dominate the ball. FB Ref’s comparison tool suggests Harry Maguire and Sergio Ramos are similar to the Frenchman.
In possession, he averages 5.54 progressive carries and 4.16 progressive passes per ninety minutes. Kounde ranks in the 93rd and 87th percentiles for these two stats respectively, showing he is an elite when progressing the ball. This is important for Chelsea, as they play with a three-man defence and need to have centre-backs capable of launching attacks. The Sevilla defender can also offer width when the team has the ball, allowing the wing-back to push forward to join the attack.
Further to his ball progression, Kounde likes to get forward and offer a goal threat. He averages 1.78 touches in the opposition penalty area per ninety minutes, ranking in the 99th percentile when compared to other defenders. The Frenchman averages 0.82 shots and 0.84 shot creating actions per ninety minutes, which is in the top 10% for his position. He scored twice in the league last season and carries a big threat from set pieces.
In terms of his defending, Kounde is a strong one-on-one defender, either in the air or on the ground. This is vital for a team playing with a three-man defence, as the wide centre-backs can be isolated on the flanks. Strikers like to pull on to these players for aerial duels too.
The 22-year-old averages 3.51 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes, showing his ability to thrive in these situations. It may take some time for the defender to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, but he has the assets to be a big success in England.
Chelsea made huge defensive improvements under Tuchel last season. This was helped by the formation change, but there is room for improvement. Thiago Silva is an excellent leader and has had a huge influence. However, he is approaching the end of his career. It would be a good move by the club to sign a young centre-back capable of developing into one of the world’s best.
They are targeting the right player in Kounde. He is an exciting defensive talent who looks to be the perfect fit for the formation being used by Tuchel.