Barcelona yet to make offer for Chelsea target Kounde
Neither Barcelona nor Chelsea have presented an offer to Sevilla for sought-after centre-back Jules Kounde, according to the Spanish club's sporting director Monchi.
Kounde attracted interest from Chelsea last year and Sevilla acknowledged at the time they rejected at least one offer for the defender.
While the fee involved then is unclear, Sevilla were reportedly holding out for as close to the France international's €80million (£68m) release clause as possible.
Indications this year are that Sevilla have relaxed their stance slightly, with suggestions their asking price is close to €70m (£60m).
Such figures would appear to be out of Barcelona's reach given their financial problems, though Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has been frequently talking of activating "levers" – such as selling off TV rights and half of their merchandising business – to inject capital and ensure the club remains competitive in the transfer market.
Monchi seemed to acknowledge Barca's interest in Kounde, as he distanced himself from criticism of Laporta's dealings in trying to ease the club's economic woes.
"Xavi has good taste, but there are zero contacts with Barca," Monchi told Onda Cero. "As for their 'levers', everything that fits the rules of the game [is fine] ... You have to be innovative, have inventiveness."
But it would appear Chelsea are focusing their efforts on other targets first as well, despite an apparent necessity to get centre-backs in after seeing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger depart.
"[Chelsea] have to look for two or three central defenders. They don't have many, but there are also more English clubs and clubs from other countries that are looking for central defenders," Monchi continued.
"There are calls from everywhere. The money is starting to roll in a bit. It's what we have left until August 31.
"There is interest. Jules has had a good season, he has established himself in the French team, he's going to go to the World Cup – that has made more clubs interested.
"Directly, there has been little movement, but his name is marked with a fluorescent highlighter in the sports directorates of important clubs.
"Kounde is in the United States. He will join us in South Korea a little later and I don't know what will happen tomorrow.
"There is movement around Kounde, yes. Many teams are looking for central defenders. Let's see what happens."
Sevilla have already seen one important player leave, with Kounde's centre-back partner for the past three years – Diego Carlos – moving to Aston Villa.
Galatasaray defender Marcao was rumoured to be his replacement, and Monchi confirmed there is an interest in the 26-year-old.
"Marcao is a centre-back that is among the names we have considered," he said. "From then on, obviously, he is not the only one. I always try to work with alternatives.
"He has passed all the filters we have to decide and is on that final list of players. He's a centre-back who may only seem aggressive, but he's left-footed with a very good touch, with personality... He's an interesting centre-back who meets the profile we have in mind."