Chelsea transfer target Jules Kounde was left out of Sevilla’s 31-man squad that travelled to Portugal to face French side Angers in a pre-season friendly as his £55m move to Stamford Bridge edges closer.
The Blues are in advanced talks to sign the 23-year-old France international centre-back, who was the subject of a failed £42.5m proposal from Thomas Tuchel last summer.
Earlier this week, Chelsea tabled a fresh bid of £51m before upping their offer by an additional £4m in an attempt to close the deal.
Kounde, who wants to test himself in the Premier League, could be set to follow Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly through the door as Todd Boehly looks to mark the start of the new era at Chelsea in style.
However, if Chelsea are to get the deal over the line, they will have to see off strong interest from Barcelona with the Catalan giants also locked in talks with Sevilla.
The Andalusian club are keen to drive an auction for Kounde and will hand Barcelona the chance to match Chelsea’s highest offer before striking any deal.
Barca’s financial struggles have seemingly been eased by their lucrative £239m Spotify sponsorship deal, which has been the key driving force behind their summer spending power.