Romelu Lukakus good understanding with Chelsea team-mate heightens Jules Kounde need

Chelsea youngster Ampadu opens up on Venezia loan move

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Chelsea have yet another reason to sign Jules Kounde following Romelu Lukaku’s comments about team-mate Cesar Azpilicueta this week. The pair combined for Chelsea’s only goal of the game on Tuesday night as they dispatched Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.

With the game still goalless with just over 20 minutes remaining, Azpilicueta floated a delightful cross into the box for Lukaku to head home in front of the raucous home crowd.

It’s the second time the defender has assisted Lukaku this season after setting him up for Chelsea’s third goal against Aston Villa on Saturday.

“It was a beautiful ball in from Cesar,” gushed Lukaku following Tuesday’s victory.

“I think we have a good understanding. We both know what positions to take up and what areas to put the deliveries into.

“I knew he would put in the right sort of cross – I just had to get my timing right and find the corner.”

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Azpilicueta has form when it comes to linking up with Chelsea’s strikers and assisted a hatful of goals for Alvaro Morata during the 2017/18 season.

In fact, Azpilicueta has racked up an astonishing 55 assists during his 435 Chelsea appearances.

But the majority of those have come when playing on the right side of Chelsea’s defence rather than in the centre, where he played in last month’s Premier League clashes with Arsenal and Liverpool.

Azpilicueta is clearly adroit at whipping dangerous balls into the box and, in Lukaku, he now has the ideal striker to get on the end of them.

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With such a potent attacking threat, it’s plausible that boss Thomas Tuchel may want to utilise Azpilicueta at right-wing-back and give his side another edge going forward.

But that would leave the Blues exposed at centre-back. Kurt Zouma was allowed to leave for West Ham this summer, so Tuchel doesn’t have a bottomless pit of options at the heart of his defence.

If the Spaniard is preferred on the right, Tuchel will need to bring in reinforcements – and the Blues have already identified their ideal man.

Sevilla’s Kounde was heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge this summer but no move materialised.

The France international is thought to have had his heart set on moving to west London but Sevilla were reportedly demanding that Chelsea pay his full £77million release clause.

Chelsea were unwilling to do that and Kounde reluctantly stayed in Spain.

“Kounde in the end has stayed because the club has decided that it was the right thing to do based on the evaluation of the offers they may have had,” Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui said after last month’s transfer deadline had passed.

“And for me, as a coach, that Jules stays is positive, without any doubt.”

Chelsea may have missed out on Kounde in the summer but, if Azpilicueta is shuffled across to the right, don’t be surprised to see the west Londoners eventually land their man in January.

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