Liverpool are ready to go toe-to-toe with Chelsea for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde, according to reports.
The French defender has been a long-term target for the Blues and came close to joining Thomas Tuchel's men last summer before a deal fell through.
Amid suggestions the Londoners could follow up their interest with another approach, Liverpool have reportedly enter the race for the 23-year-old's services as the two Premier League rivals find themselves in an all-too-familiar transfer tug-of-war.
The Reds were believed to be keen on Timo Werner back when he was at RB Leipzig, but were beaten to his signature by Chelsea in the summer 2020.
It now appears as though revenge could be on the cards, as according to reports in Spain, Liverpool will make a move for the Sevilla star this month.
El Nacional claim the Reds are happy to meet Kounde's £68.5million release clause this January as they plot defensive reinforcements following the news that centre-back Nat Phillips is set for an imminent departure.
The fee is significantly higher than the £42m figure reportedly agreed between Sevilla and Chelsea in the summer, before the proposed move broke down.
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The news will also comes as a surprise given the recent revelation by ESPN that Sevilla were willing to drop their €80m (£68m) asking price for Kounde this month.
Having amended their demands, the Spaniards are now reportedly likely to accept an offer in the region of £42.5m to £51m for one of their prized assets.
The Spanish outlet also claim the seven-time French international "has given his approval to the offer presented to him by Liverpool", which, if true, will come as a significant blow to Tuchel and Chelsea.
It remains to be seen whether the Blues will respond to Liverpool's reported bid as the west Londoners' desire for defensive reinforcements will have been compounded by the ongoing contract stand-offs with a number of their current backline.
Despite Thaigo Silva recently committing his future to Chelsea, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger are all yet to agree new terms as they enter the final six months of their respective deals.
With Chelsea facing the prospect of finding themselves short at the back this summer and Liverpool lurking, expect to see the Kounde tug-of-war hot up in the coming weeks.
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