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Two potential Virgil van Dijk replacements were in Champions League action on Wednesday night.

But while Dayot Upamecano was powerless to prevent Leipzig drowning in a flood of Manchester United goals at Old Trafford, another Liverpool linked centre-half was only enhancing his reputation en route to yet another hard-fought clean sheet.

According to 90Min, Jules Kounde is one of a select few talented, young, Europe-based central defenders on the Reds’ radar.

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But for what he lacks in affordability (the Frenchman’s £70 million price-tag makes him far more expensive than Mykola Matviyenko, Pau Torres or even Upamecano himself), he more than makes up for in defensive talent.

To many, Kounde is just the ‘other’ Sevilla centre-half, the one often overshadowed by the older, more aggressive Diego Carlos.

But anyone who watched the Europa League champions on a frequent basis post-lockdown will tell you that Kounde was the glue who held Julen Lopetegui’s well-drilled side together.

Not only is the Paris-born 21-year-old a supremely gifted defender blessed with superb positional sense and the leap of a professional pole vaulter, he also shares Van Dijk’s penchant for an inch-perfect crossfield pass.

Kounde was almost faultless, once again, as Sevilla kept in-form Rennes off the scoresheet in Wednesday’s 1-0 win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Upamecano might be the name on everyone’s lips right now. But, among many Liverpool fans, the clamour for Kounde is growing.

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