Man Utd’s Jules Kounde transfer plans suffer blow as Barcelona remain interested

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Barcelona remain prepared to rival Manchester United for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde despite signing Eric Garcia from Manchester City, according to reports.

Garcia re-joined the La Liga giants on a free transfer after deciding to leave the Premier League champions at the end of his contract.

The Spaniard came through the famed La Masia set-up before joining Pep Guardiola’s side in 2018.

A huge £343million release clause has been inserted into his five-year deal at the Nou Camp.

Man Utd hoped that Barcelona signing Garcia would mean that Ronald Koeman’s side withdrew their interest in fellow centre-back Kounde.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is actively hunting for a defensive partner to Harry Maguire this summer after having his side’s frailties highlighted towards the end of the season.

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Neither Victor Lindelof nor Eric Bailly have convinced that they can be the England defender’s long-term sidekick. 

Lindelof and Bailly were particularly unimpressive when they had to partner each other for the remainder of the campaign.

Maguire limped off in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa with an ankle injury on May 9 and missed the rest of the season, with his hopes of featuring in the Three Lions’ opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia in doubt.  

United finished runners-up behind rivals City but stumbled over the finish line with just two wins in their final five matches. They were then beaten by Villarreal in the Europa League final.

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Fellow defender Axel Tuanzebe did well when used by Solskjaer, particularly in United’s 2-1 Champions League group stage win over Paris Saint-Germain.

However, the academy graduate made just nine Premier League appearances and does not seem fully trusted by Solskjaer.

United and City have both registered an interest in Sevilla’s Kounde, although the former’s more pressing need for additions at centre-back should make them favourites.

However, their plans to sign the 22-year-old have taken a blow as Barcelona remain interested, according to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo.

Kounde impressed for Sevilla last season and helped them to finish fourth in La Liga. He made 34 league appearances.

His form earned him a senior international debut for France during their 3-0 win over 10-man Wales on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Garcia joined team-mate Sergio Aguero in completing a free transfer move from City to Barca.

Announcing the signing of Garcia on June 1, the club said: “The return of 20-year-old Eric Garcia to FC Barcelona is now official.

“The defender joined the Barca Academy in 2008 and continued his development at La Masia until 2017 when he left for Manchester City where he spent four seasons featuring at U19, U23 level and for the first team.

“A player with a great future ahead of him, he is a defender very much suited to Barça’s style of play.

“Captain at every level during his time at La Masia, always with the number 3 on his back, Garcia grew up with Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano as his role models.”
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