Chelsea eye two urgent midfield signings after making first transfer announcement since Pochettino appointment

Manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: Alamy
Manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: Alamy

Chelsea have kickstarted the Mauricio Pochettino era by confirming the future signing of Kendry Paez from Independiente del Valle.

Paez, 16, will only be able to join Chelsea once he has turned 18 in May 2025, but the deal to bring him to England has been agreed. It is the first transfer the club have confirmed since announcing Pochettino as their next manager.

Of course, Pochettino won’t be able to call upon Paez until the 2025-26 season. Interestingly, the manager’s own initial contract with Chelsea only goes up until 2024-25, but there is an option to extend it into 2025-26.

Regardless, Paez has been identified by the club as a signing for the future after he began to make his name with Independiente del Valle.

Paez is already playing for the Ecuador under-20 national team, despite being four years younger than that category. Indeed, he is the youngest player at the ongoing under-20 World Cup.

Ecuador, incidentally, lost in the quarter-finals of that competition to an Italy side whose top scorer has been Cesare Casadei, another midfielder Chelsea have already invested in for the future.

Chelsea have not confirmed in their announcement what the transfer fee they will be paying for Paez is, nor how long his contract in west London will last.

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For now, the teenager can continue focusing on his development with Independiente del Valle for the next couple of years. He has already made six appearances for them at senior level.

Paez has come through the same setup as Moises Caicedo, who has flourished with Brighton since taking the leap away from Independiente del Valle.

Chelsea have two more immediate midfield targets in mind

Interestingly, reports have been speculating that Chelsea could also reignite their interest in Caicedo. According to the latest from the Daily Mail, an £80m bid to Brighton could be in the pipeline.

Caicedo has also been linked with Arsenal after impressing at Brighton. However, Chelsea are considering how to tempt Brighton into accepting their own offer.

The solution could be to offer some fringe players in the opposite direction within a part-exchange deal. If successful, Caicedo could take the place of N’Golo Kante – due to become a free agent at the end of the season – in the Chelsea squad.

Elsewhere, the Daily Express has been claiming that another midfielder Chelsea are set to try again for is Southampton’s Romeo Lavia.

Lavia was the subject of a transfer attempt by Chelsea last summer, just weeks after joining Southampton from Manchester City. Now, after the Belgium international suffered relegation, a deal might be there for the taking.

Per the Express, Lavia and Caicedo have become Chelsea’s top two midfield targets for this summer. The Blues have remained in touch for Lavia, who could cost them around £45m if Southampton get their way.

And there has also been the revelation that Lavia has spoken to his Belgium teammate, Eden Hazard – who enjoyed a glittering spell with Chelsea – about what it would be like to become a blue.

Man City do have a buyback clause for Lavia, which they can activate next year. His other admirers include Arsenal and Liverpool, but Chelsea might have been able to use Hazard as a secret weapon.

Pochettino will need to bring in some new faces in midfield if Chelsea lose the amount of players they are currently expected to in the department this summer.

In addition to the risk of Kante being released, Mason Mount could be on his way to Man Utd, Mateo Kovacic might join Man City and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could go to AC Milan, for example.

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