Jules Kounde has confirmed he had the option to join Chelsea but decided to wait for an offer from Barcelona, with the defender preferring a move to Camp Nou.
Despite the addition of Koulibaly already this summer, Blues manager Thomas Tuchel has been keen to reinforce his back-line even further and the west Londoners made a big push to sign Kounde.
A little over a week ago, the Blues actually thought they had won the race to sign the 23-year-old defender after agreeing a £55m fee with Sevilla.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta even conceded defeat, telling a fan that the player was heading to Chelsea.
Sevilla sporting director Monchi has since claimed that Chelsea U-turned on the deal, expressing doubts at the eleventh hour, but Kounde has given a different version of events and says he was always prepared to wait for Barcelona.
‘It’s true that I had the opportunity to sign for Chelsea but we had to wait for Barca to find an agreement with Sevilla,’ he said at his unveiling when asked about interest from the west London club.
‘When I saw that it was possible, I chose Barcelona, I was very clear about that. It’s a big club and an ambitious project.’
Barcelona’s director of football Mateu Alemany also spoke at Kounde’s unveiling and revealed the player’s agent had been calling him relentlessly during Chelsea pursuit, with the defender eager to join the Catalans.
Speaking about Kounde’s agent, Jonathan Kebe, Alemany said: ‘He was calling me every day to find out about fair play issues because Kounde wanted to come. I had to tell him to stop calling because I didn’t know what to say.
‘After the second financial lever was activated he almost had a deal with another club [Chelsea] but Kounde wanted to come to Barca.’
Speaking last week, Sevilla transfer chief Monchi said of Chelsea’s pursuit of Kounde: ‘In the final stretch, Chelsea stayed above everyone else, we’d been negotiating over the past month until to the point that we reached a verbal agreement last Thursday.
‘The player also reached an agreement but at the last moment, Chelsea had doubts. Everything stopped, there was a very good offer but they decided to stop.’
He added: ‘The player, on Thursday night, was sold to Chelsea. With an agreement between the clubs and with the player, but, even if you have been in this world for a long time, there are situations that still surprise you.
‘There were some moves at Chelsea that made them doubt Kounde’s profile. The wait was delayed to the point that Barca appeared. Chelsea wanted to come back, but Barca’s offer was better.’