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Who is reported Liverpool target and Sevilla defender Jules Kounde?

The transfer links never stop where Liverpool are concerned, even with the window closed, the rumour mill continues to spiral out new names touted with a move to Anfield.

It is not long until the January window opens after all, and 90Min.com are already linking Liverpool with a move for Jules Kounde.

Kounde is part of a five-man shortlist of central defensive options to help cover in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, who is expected to miss the rest of the season due to an ACL injury.

He recently rose to prominence having starred in Julen Lopetegui’s defensive quartet that triumphed in the Europa League final last season against Inter Milan.

Among the list of potential candidates as well as Kounde are Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matvienko and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.

Jules Kounde: Factfile

1) Kounde is now in his second full season at Sevilla following a £22.4 million [Goal] move from Bordeaux in 2019.

2) After making his Bordeaux debut aged 19 he clocked up 70 first-team appearances in the French top-flight before making his move to La Liga.

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3) Kounde turns 22 next month and has already featured four times for France’s under-21 side. It’s only a matter of time before he is given an opportunity in Didier Deschamps senior set-up.

4) Last season he made 34 starts for Sevilla and a further four appearances from the bench. He started the 3-2 Europa League final win over Inter Milan alongside Diego Carlos, who was also recently linked with a move to Liverpool.

5) According to Opta powered site Whoscored, Kounde had the second-best pass accuracy of all players to start more than five Europa League matches last season. He was also dribbled past by opponents just once.

Sevilla’s French defender Jules Kounde (L) challenges Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 4, 2020. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

What is his situation?

Kounde is under contract at Sevilla until 2024 and so the Spanish giants are under no immediate obligation to sell.

According to ESPN, Sevilla would be looking for a fee in the region of 65 million EUROS (£59 million).

Former club Bordeaux will receive a nine million EURO sell-on clause should any club wish to purchase Kounde from Spain, GFFN report.

High praise

Sevilla’s statement upon the announcement of Kounde’s signing saw the towering central defender labelled as: ‘one of the sensations of French football’.

Sporting director Monchi recently turned down an approach from Manchester City for Kounde after Sevilla rejected a lucrative offer from the Premier League outfit. Speaking on the matter to Goal.com, Monchi said: “We said no to an offer that multiplied by two and a half times the amount that we paid last year for a player who was labelled as being expensive.”

Responding to numerous transfer exit rumours last month, manager Lopetegui sent out a message of defiance to potential European suitors, via Macra.

He said: “Jules is our player, he is an important part of the team.”

Should Liverpool pursue?

Liverpool’s growing list of central defensive setbacks makes a strong case that Jurgen Klopp is in desperate need of reinforcements.

The Premier League champions have lost the likes of Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho all in the space of a fortnight leaving just Joe Gomez as Liverpool’s only recognised senior centre back.

The next few months are big for the likes of Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio who are all expected to play important roles in the first-team.

SEVILLE, SPAIN – OCTOBER 28: Jules Kounde of Sevilla FC in action during the UEFA Champions League Group E stage match between Sevilla FC and Stade Rennais at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on October 28, 2020 in Seville, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Kounde is an outstanding talent who has flourished in both France and Spain. It’s incredible that at just 21, he has already raked in 100 professional appearances.

£59 million is a pricey figure but given his age and the fact that both Van Dijk and Matip will be 30 come to the end of the season, it could represent a necessary long-term investment.

However, there are cheaper alternatives elsewhere that Liverpool will also consider ahead of the January window.

Kounde is already more costly than fellow reported target Upamecano of RB Leipzig, who has a cheaper release clause, and if the Sevilla star breaks into the France national side and is in contention to feature at Euro 2021, his price tag could rise to around £70 million.

For that reason, it is important that this rumour is to be taken with a pinch of salt. It will be sensible for Liverpool to weigh up all of their options before drawing up who is and isn’t a top-priority for Klopp.

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