Man Utd 'prepared to battle Chelsea in Jules Kounde transfer race with 23-year-old Sevilla defender top target

MANCHESTER UNITED are facing a battle with Chelsea to sign Sevilla star Jules Kounde, according to reports.

Both sides were interested in the Frenchman in the summer, whose contract possesses a release clause of around £68million.

The Blues were in negotiations with Sevilla over Kounde, but could not agree a fee.

Man United, meanwhile, also want to bolster their defence with the France international.

But it's Chelsea that appear the more likely to make a January swoop.

According to ESPN, boss Thomas Tuchel is very keen to sign Kounde to play in his back three.

The Blues hope that, six months on, Sevilla will drop their valuation.

Chelsea's defensive situation could become more of a priority next month, with FOUR senior centre-backs set to be out of contract next summer.

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The West Londoners are yet to agree fresh terms with any of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva or Cesar Azpilicueta.

A host of clubs including Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are after Rudiger.

While Barcelona are monitoring Azpilicueta's situation.

The Blues would prefer to pay a fee in the £40m-50m range for Kounde.

Tuchel is a long-term admirer of the 23-year-old, dating back to his days as PSG boss going up against Kounde's Bordeaux.

Should Chelsea fail to sign their primary target, however, they do have backups in mind.

The Blues like Lille defender Sven Botman.

While Wolfsburg's Maxence Lacroix is also on their radar.

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