Manchester

Barcelona star Jules Kounde reveals how close he came to Man City transfer

City signed Dias for Benfica in September 2020 for an initial fee of 62m, and immediately the Portugal international set about turning around City's defensive fortunes. The beginning of the 2020/21 season saw City endure their worst start to a Premier League season in years, and it quickly became obvious that defensive reinforcements were required.

Dias was signed two days after the Blues suffered a humiliating 5-2 defeat at home to Leicester. And while it took a couple of months for City to rediscover their top form, their defensive line instantly looked more soli with him starting alongside John Stones.

City, of course, went on to win the title at a canter, finishing 12 points ahead of runners up Manchester United. For his remarkable impact on City's defence Dias was named the Premier League Player of the Year by the Football Writers' Association and was voted City's player of the season.

However, it is common knowledge that Dias was not City's first choice defensive target. The Blues missed out on Harry Maguire in 2019 as he went to United, and in 2020 they failed to prise Kalidou Koulibaly away from Napoli

Now it appears that Guardiola was very keen on then-Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, who was just 21 at the time. The French centre-back had enjoyed an impressive debut season at the Spanish club and helped them to win the Europa League, and Guardiola thought he would be an ideal fit for his system.

This summer, Kounde swapped Sevilla for Barcelona in a deal worth around 47m, but speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais this week the defender admitted that City were interested in him two years ago.

“In my first year at Sevilla [2020] Guardiola called me. He told me that he loved me and that he believed I would fit the way City play,” he said.