Sevilla director Monchi has denied talks have been held with Barcelona over centre-back Jules Kounde, but admitted Chelsea are among the sides chasing him.
The previous Chelsea regime had been working for over a year to try and sign Kounde, having come close to landing the Frenchman in 2021, and the expectancy was that he would be among the first signings of the new era at Stamford Bridge under Todd Boehly.
However, talks have slowed down in recent weeks, with Chelsea parting ways with most of their decision-makers, and Barcelona have now stepped in and are exploring ways to beat the Blues to Kounde's signature.
Speaking to Onda Cero, Monchi played down talk of negotiations with Barcelona and instead flipped the attention back to Chelsea.
"Xavi has good taste, wanting [Ronald] Araujo and Kounde as his central defenders, they'd be a great partnership," he said. "But so far, there has been zero contact with Barcelona.
"I know that Chelsea have to look for two central defenders, and the interest in Kounde comes from England and other countries.
"I would have to be a fortune teller to know what is going to happen."
90min understands that Kounde is keen to join Chelsea, but his representatives have grown frustrated at the delays in talks with Thomas Tuchel's side, given they have been close to a deal for the last 12 months.
Chelsea are now looking at Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt as well, while Barcelona are exploring cheaper options themselves amid concerns that their famous financial 'levers' will not stretch wide enough to enable all their transfer wishes.
Monchi ended by saying that he understands the interest in Kounde but stressing that the plan, for the moment, is for the defender to report for pre-season later this summer.
"He has established himself with France and will play at the World Cup, it's logical that there is interest in him, and there is," Monchi said.
"As of today, he is recovering from injury in Los Angeles and will fly to Korea later like the rest of the international players."
Source : 90min