Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement on personal terms with Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez. The Catalan club are set to lose out on the signing of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde to Chelsea.
According to Spanish outlet Sport, Martinez has always been sporting director Mateu Alemany's first choice. The defender is believed to have an €80 million release clause but could end up costing far less than that amount.
That he is 31 and in the final year of his contract at San Mames is expected to play in favor of the Blaugrana. The entire operation could cost less than the €60 million that Chelsea are set to pay for Kounde.
Kounde, at 23, is far younger than Martinez and has been the subject of interest from some of Europe's top clubs this summer. What the Spaniard lacks in youth, however, he makes up for in experience.
The Athletic centre-back has started 341 La Liga games throughout the course of his career for Los Leones and Real Sociedad. Martinez has also been capped 19 times by the Spanish national team.
Xavi will be looking to strengthen at the back this summer considering Gerard Pique's age. The 35-year-old is fast approaching the end of his glorious playing career. Meanwhile, Clement Lenglet has joined Tottenham Hotspur on a year-long loan for the upcoming season.
Barcelona unable to match Chelsea's offer for Jules Kounde
According to Football.London, Chelsea are close to landing their second defensive signing of the season. Barcelona are unable to match their £55 million bid for Jules Kounde.
The Blues brought in Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli for £34 million earlier this summer and are increasingly confident of landing the Sevilla centre-back. Barcelona are also keen on the France international but they cannot match Chelsea's offer for him.
Xavi's side signed Andreas Christensen on a free transfer after the Dane ran down his contract at Stamford Bridge last month.
Kounde, 23, joined Los Nervionenses from FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the summer of 2019. Since then, he has made 133 appearances for Sevilla across all competitions, scoring nine goals along with providing three assists.
Antonio Rudiger also left Thomas Tuchel's side to join Real Madrid on a free transfer while Cesar Azpilicueta continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou. Amidst this, it is safe to say that Chelsea's need for Kounde is much more urgent compared to that of Barcelona.