Sevilla are looking to offload Kounde, 23, to balance their books, but Barca have so far been unable to act on their longstanding interest due to their precarious financial situation.
That could open the door for City to move for Kounde, although sources have told ESPN that they will only move for the highly rated France centre-back or Torres, 25, if Ake departs.
Kounde has made 133 appearances for Sevilla since joining from Bordeaux in 2019 and played a key role as the Spanish side won the Europa League in 2020.
Torres, meanwhile, is a mainstay at the back for Villarreal having risen through the ranks there, and has made 19 appearances for Spain.
Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, while they are also weighing up approaches for Paris Saint-Germain's Presnel Kimpembe and Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt.