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Jules Koundé – Monchi’s latest success

Jules Koundé

The next man to find pastures new after coming through Monchi’s conveyor belt of talent looks to be Sevilla’s Jules Koundé. The former goalkeeper’s return to Seville in the summer of 2019 was marked by a spending spree in excess of €178 million. A total of 14 players were recruited, of which Koundé was the joint-most expensive at €25 million.

Koundé only made his Ligue 1 debut for Bordeaux in January 2018 but immediately established himself as a first-team regular, missing only two league games in the following 18 months before departing for Spain.

After arriving in Seville, the Frenchman initially had to bide his time, providing a backup option for Daniel Carrico and Diego Carlos until being given his first start alongside Carlos in a 3-2 win on matchday 7 vs Real Sociedad. Across the 2019/20 La Liga season, Sevilla lost one game in which Koundé started. That game was a tightly contested match against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, that ended 2-1 to Los Blancos.

Coming into the 2020/21 season, the Koundé-Carlos partnership had established itself as one of the most formidable in La Liga. In total, Sevilla conceded just 33 goals in the league last season. Only the two capital-based sides (Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid) conceded fewer. Of the 38 league matches, Koundé featured in 34. Of the four games the Frenchman missed, Sevilla lost three: to Granada, Eibar and Elche. In two seasons and still at just 22 years old, Koundé has established himself as an integral player in Andalusia. WhoScored.com ranked the Frenchman as Sevilla’s best player and the best centre-back in La Liga last season, receiving a 7.01 rating.  

These performances have attracted interest from across Europe’s elite and Monchi looks to have uncovered yet another diamond in the rough that Sevilla will receive a considerable profit from.

The most likely destination for Koundé is Real Madrid. Following the departure of the talismanic Sergio Ramos and continued uncertainty regarding Rafael Varane’s future, Real Madrid are in need of defensive reinforcements. Whilst David Alaba has already been added this summer the only other senior centre-backs at the club are Nacho Fernandez, (who has been a perennial backup defender for Real) Eder Militao (who wasn’t trusted by Zidane, despite arriving for €50m in the summer of 2019) and Jesus Vallejo (who, since joining the club back in 2015, has spent four seasons away from Madrid on loan and in his two seasons with Los Blancos, has played a total of 1,495 minutes for the club). Koundé could prove to be the perfect replacement for Sergio Ramos, who also joined Los Blancos from Sevilla.

As seen below, over the 2020/21 season, Koundé won more aerial duels and completed more dribbles, interceptions, progressive carries, and progressive passes than Ramos despite having a comparable pass success rate. Ramos only outperformed Koundé in terms of tackles.

In conclusion, based on last season’s performances, Koundé would prove to be an improvement on the aging Spaniard.

Other interested parties in the French defender are said to be Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Manchester United’s defensive issues and subsequent search for a centre-back to accompany Harry Maguire has been well documented. However, Rafael Varane has been a long-term target for the Red Devils and with just one year remaining on his current contract, could be a cheaper option than Koundé. Therefore, Koundé is expected to be only a backup option for United, should a move for Varane not materialise. This means that it may be in Madrid’s best interest to allow Varane to join United to free up finances and squad space, as well as reducing competing interest in one of their primary targets.

The only potential stumbling block for Real Madrid is Florentino Perez’s endless pursuit of Kylian Mbappe. If the Parisian forward becomes available for a fee that Madrid can match, it is likely that their entire transfer budget could go towards bringing the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu, neglecting all of their other targets.

Chelsea are also rumoured to be interested in Koundé although a move to Stamford Bridge doesn’t appear likely. The Blues are currently being linked with every available high-profile player across Europe including Erling Haaland and Eduardo Camavinga as Thomas Tuchel looks to build on his Champions League success last season to construct a team capable of challenging for the Premier League. Whilst a move for Koundé shouldn’t be ruled out, Chelsea are likely to prioritise English talent in defence to expand their homegrown contingent, with Ben White and Declan Rice higher on their priority list.

Tottenham’s stated interest is expected to be minimal in reality. Sevilla’s rumoured asking price for Koundé is €70m, a fee that Tottenham simply cannot match in their current financial situation without selling star players beforehand. With the arrival of Japanese defender Takehiro Tomiyasu (who also plays either centre-back or right-back) expected imminently in North London, the Lilywhites interest in Koundé will likely end here.

Our calculations currently value the 22-year-old at €36.823m, which demonstrates Monchi’s transfer policy at Sevilla. Talented players are hoovered up, provided with a platform to prove themselves in La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Europa League/Champions League before being sold for huge sums to Europe’s elite. One thing for certain is that if Koundé does leave Seville, the man to replace him will already be waiting in the wings as Monchi’s conveyor belt never stands still.

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