Media Watch: Stiff competition for Kounde, pundit hails defensive duo and Chelsea labelled ‘team to beat’ in Champions League

In our look at the latest Chelsea-related news stories from the media, we could end up in a three-way Premier League race to complete the signing of Jules Kounde, while Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta caught the eye against Zenit St Petersburg.

These stories are samples pulled from external media sources. They do not represent the views or position of Chelsea Football Club.

Chelsea face Kounde competition

There will be stiff competition from at least two other Premier League clubs if Chelsea attempt to complete the signing of Jules Kounde in the January transfer window, according to Tutto Mercato Web.

Reports claim the Blues are still keen to add the centre-back to our squad, having come close to bringing him to Stamford Bridge in the summer, and believe a deal can be agreed with his current club Sevilla for a winter move.

However, it is also thought possible we could wait until the end of this season before attempting to sign the 22-year-old again, although the report claims there is likely to be more competition for his signature the longer we wait.

Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly also made enquiries about Kounde’s availability, but it is claimed our biggest competition is likely to come from closer to home in the form of Arsenal and Tottenham. While their absence from the Champions League gives us a firm advantage at the moment, if they were to qualify for next season it could bring them back into the running.

Pundit hails defensive duo

Rio Ferdinand has highlighted the role of Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta in the Chelsea team after being impressed by the centre-backs during our 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg.

The former Manchester United and England defender was watching at Stamford Bridge as we opened our 2021/22 Champions League campaign with a win and a clean sheet against the Russian side.

However, it was the attacking contribution those players made against Zenit and their willingness to take the game by the scruff of the neck which really caught his eye.

‘The two centre-halves really pushed on in the second half. They were assertive,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport.

‘Rudiger was flying up and down the pitch with the intensity that’s needed, Azpilicueta is the actual man who crosses the ball for Lukaku to score.

‘That’s two centre-halves really taking it upon themselves to influence the game.’

Chelsea ‘team to beat’ in Europe

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has identified the Blues as the main obstacle standing between his team and Champions League glory.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the French side’s 1-1 draw away at Club Brugge in the group stage, and reported in The Sun, he claimed Chelsea and PSG had the two best teams in this season’s competition, although he believed our triumph in the last final showed we are currently leading the pack.

‘It’s possible that Chelsea and ourselves are the two teams to beat on paper, looking at our squads,’ said Pochettino. ‘But Chelsea are the holders so they’re the team to beat, especially after strengthening their squad.’

That mention of our summer signings seems like particularly high praise for our new arrivals like Romelu Lukaku from the former Tottenham boss, coming from the man who recently added Lionel Messi to his squad.

However, Pochettino believes his PSG players still need to build the strong team spirit and togetherness that played a big part in our Champions League triumph under Thomas Tuchel last season.

‘We’re not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some big names but we have to turn into a team.

‘The pressure is there for all the clubs and we know that for a number of years.’

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