Arguably Barcelona’s biggest transfer coup this summer was securing the signing of Jules Kounde from Sevilla.
Barca were able to use their financial muscle to bully Bayern Munich to sell Robert Lewandowski, yet their ability to pinch Kounde from under the noses of Chelsea was perhaps more impressive given the financial strength of the side they were up against.
Indeed, the France international star has revealed that he had been keeping a close eye on Barcelona’s progress under Xavi and that had a major role to play in his decision.
Kounde impressed by Xavi
“Before Xavi arrived at Barca, we were 15 points ahead of them in Sevilla. Xavi arrived and they did a great job. I was a Sevilla player, but I watched a lot of Xavi’s Barca, I saw how he grew, the changes he made. I liked him a lot,” Kounde admitted.
“Before signing for Barca I had a conversation with Xavi. We talked about football. I felt a huge confidence. Xavi had a real knowledge of my game and my qualities. He knew me very well and I felt confident.
“When I spoke to Xavi for the first time, he told me that my qualities corresponded to his game plan… Starting plays from the back, making use of my speed and anticipation.
“Xavi told me that he wanted an aggressive team, he told me: ‘We are one of the teams that presses high, that runs the most. I see you in my system’. And I also saw myself playing in that system. I saw myself in that team.
“I spoke to Thomas Tuchel, who gave me a speech and explained his project to me… I felt he wanted to convince me to join Chelsea. But I simply preferred Xavi’s speech when he called me and explained his project.”
Kounde also revealed that Xavi’s desire to play him in his favoured role played a key part in his decision, suggesting that Chelsea might have had different plans for him.
“Playing as a right-back? I prefer to play as a centre-back. That’s why I chose Barca, because I know that most of the time I’ll be playing as a centre-back.”
Kounde has played five times for Barcelona since his transfer.