English clubs Manchester City and Chelsea were interested in signing Jules Kounde before the France international joined Barcelona from La Liga rivals Sevilla in July

Jules Kounde has admitted he considered joining Manchester City before completing his summer transfer from Sevilla to Barcelona.

The French international, 23, signed for Barcelona in July following interest from City and Premier League rivals Chelsea. He has built a reputation as one of the best young defenders in Europe since making his senior debut for Bordeaux in January 2018.

Kounde was heavily linked with City in the summer of 2020 and even spoke to Pep Guardiola, but a move never materialised. The City boss instead went on to sign Ruben Dias, who was named the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year in May 2021.

When asked by Spanish outlet El Pais if he was close to joining City, Kounde said: “Yes, in my first year at Sevilla he [Guardiola] called me. He told me that he loved me and that he thought I would fit the way he played.”

While Barcelona landed Kounde this summer, City also invested in their defence, signing centre-back Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund and left-back Sergio Gomez from Anderlecht.

Although he has only been in Catalonia for a matter of weeks, Kounde believes there are similarities between Barcelona manager Xavi and his predecessor, Guardiola. Xavi was a key part of his fellow Spaniard’s Blaugrana team that dominated European football between 2008 and 2012, winning three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues.

“I talked a lot about football with both of them [Xavi and Guardiola],” added Kounde. “And that’s what I like. The first thing, in the conversations I had with them, I realised that they had both seen me play. They knew my capabilities perfectly. They didn’t talk just to talk. They were very precise conversations.”

Kounde has flourished in Spain since leaving Bordeaux for Sevilla in the summer of 2019. He made 133 appearances for Sevilla, winning the Europa League in August 2020. The defender was named in the tournament’s Squad of the Season for his efforts.

Kounde has also done well in La Liga, earning a spot in the Team of the Season last term. He made his senior debut for France last year and has won 11 caps to date, starting their 2-1 win against Spain in the Nations League final in October 2021.

Despite interest from elsewhere, Kounde admitted it was an “easy choice” to join Barcelona. It’s believed he was Chelsea’s preferred defensive target, but the Blues bolstered their defence by signing Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana instead.

“Barca is still a club able to attract anyone, and the manager was very important too,” said Kounde. “He gave me a lot of confidence and I liked his way of approaching football. It was an easy choice for me because he gave me all that I was looking for.”

Speaking at his unveiling in August, Kounde added: “The coach Xavi is one of the great reasons why I’m here. I’ve spoken to him several times and the way he spoke was captivating. We had some good conversations, we see football in the same way… I’m very excited because I’m arriving at a great club and a great team.”

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