Chelsea’s transfer priority in final 24 hours made clear after Jules Kounde deal collapses

Chelsea may be forced to make a late alteration to their transfer plans on deadline day, with a move for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde now said to be highly unlikely. The Blues have been chasing the 22-year-old’s signature for over a month, but it seems as though their efforts will ultimately be in vain as the summer window draws to a close.Chelsea believed they had a verbal agreement with Sevilla to land Kounde, who made 49 appearances in all competitions last season.

However, the La Liga heavyweights have since moved the goalposts and are demanding an extra £12.8million from the European champions, according to The Athletic.

Their decision to play hardball leaves Chelsea’s hopes of signing their No 1 target in tatters with just hours until this evening’s 11pm deadline.

Although Thomas Tuchel is believed to be keen on strengthening at the back, the club’s failure in bringing Kounde to Stamford Bridge could eventually serve as a blessing in disguise.

The addition of a new midfielder could arguably be a higher priority for the Blues, who have been sweating over the condition of N’Golo Kante.

The diminutive Frenchman has recently been struggling with an ankle problem that forced him off at half-time against Liverpool on Saturday evening.

He is one of Chelsea’s most important players but could do with some cover in the middle of the park to keep his legs fresh, while Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic would be accounted for in case of further injuries.

Enter Saul Niguez, who has been heavily linked with a move to west London for a number of weeks.

Atletico Madrid are reportedly prepared to let the 26-year-old leave on a season-long loan deal as long as they can find a suitable replacement.

Saul is an experienced operator and has proven himself as a valuable asset in La Liga, helping steer Atletico to their first title since 2013 last season.

His addition to Tuchel’s squad would likely do more for the German boss than a move for Kounde, who is simply not needed at Stamford Bridge at this time.

Although the latter is undoubtedly one of Europe’s finest young centre-backs, Tuchel’s defensive ranks are already stacked full of talent.

The likes of Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilucueta are primed to play crucial roles this season, while the versatility of Reece James will provide Tuchel with plenty of additional options.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah has been extremely promising and the 22-year-old has kept his place in and around the first-team squad on merit.

Tuchel recently admitted that Chalobah has fought his way into contention with his impressive performances in pre-season and against Crystal Palace on the opening day, leaving Chelsea with no shortage of cover at the back.

It remains to be seen whether club director Marina Granovskaia will pursue the services of Saul in the remaining hours before the window slams shut.

He would not arrive as the glamour signing that Chelsea fans might have been hoping for, but the Spaniard is more than capable of being the difference between success and failure this season if the Blues are hit with additional injuries in midfield.

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