Arsenal view Barcelona star Jules Kounde as the “leap in quality” manager Mikel Arteta “needs” for defence as they eye a move, according to reports.
Who could join Arsenal this summer?
The Premier League side fought long and hard this season in contention for what would have been a first league title in 20 years, but after being beaten to the punch by champions Man City, it’s time to prepare for next campaign.
Gunners transfer chief Edu, as he recently admitted in an interview with ESPN (via 90min), has already begun preparations for the summer window.
“Our planning has already been done,” said Edu.”It has already reached the owners. Now, we’re taking things step by step. We’re focused on how we will finish the season, but we’ve put in the planning and I’m very excited.”
Central midfield is viewed as a real priority within Arsenal, according to reports, with West Ham star Declan Rice and Brighton’s Moises Caicedo among the names they could sign.
Man City captain Ilkay Gundogan, Leicester City playmaker James Maddison and Chelsea’s Mason Mount are also of interest to the north Londoners, with reports suggesting they could also go after centre-backs.
Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi is one name to be mentioned by the press, with another report now claiming they’re interested in a move for Kounde.
The France international could apparently leave Barcelona this summer, mainly due to his dissatisfaction at playing right-back, with Arteta’s joining both Man City and Man United in targeting him.
This is according to one Spanish source, who state Arsenal view Kounde as the “leap in quality” needed at centre-back. It’s claimed the former Sevilla star “would be a great addition that fits perfectly”, and Barca would be willing to part ways in the event of a suitable offer.
Who is Jules Kounde?
The £158,000-per-week star has been a fixture under Xavi in La Liga this season, playing the seventh-most minutes of any Barca player (WhoScored).
Kounde also ranks among their best-performing crop by average match rating, with only Gerard Pique and Andreas Christensen averaging more clearances per 90 in the Spanish top flight (WhoScored).
Journalist Raul Varela even likened him to Sergio Ramos in 2021, writing for Marca:
“Kounde is the closest thing to Ramos that the Spanish league has to offer at the moment. In terms of leadership, charisma, physical power, technical quality, versatility and now, it seems, even a love affair with goals.”
If Arsenal decide to step up their interest and negotiate a good price for the 24-year-old, he could be a stellar alternative to William Saliba.