Sevilla have warned Chelsea that they will not sell Jules Kounde on the cheap.
The Blues tried to sign the France international in the summer, but a move fell through after the La Liga outfit raised their asking price.
Chelsea thought a bid of around £43m would be sufficient to prise the centre-back away from the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
They were led to believe that Sevilla would accept such an offer, but the Spanish side then insisted that Chelsea must trigger Kounde's release clause of £68.5m.
The European champions withdrew their offer at that point, but they are still interested in Kounde.
Antonio Rudiger is expected to bid farewell to Stamford Bridge when his contract expires next summer. Thiago Silva, now 37, could also depart at the end of the campaign.
Chelsea therefore need to freshen up their defensive ranks, and Kounde is thought to be their top target.
They could even seek to bring the defender to west London in January, although other clubs are also keen on the 22-year-old.
But Sevilla have warned Chelsea that they should not expect to land one of their star players for a small fee.
The club president Jose Castro refuted suggestions that the club needs to sell Kounde in order to boost their finances.
"To say that the club is broke is ridiculous," Castro told AS. “Last season we had a surplus, after a season without season tickets, without ticket sales.
“The deficit would have been resolved by selling Kounde and we showed that we are economically powerful and we will not accept €50million.
"To say that Sevilla is broke is to not have affection for the club.”
Chelsea may therefore need to be prepared to meet Kounde's release clause in order to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
It will be interesting to see whether Roman Abramovich is willing to spend such a large sum on a centre-back.
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