Chelsea step up interest in Raphinha as Thomas Tuchel rebuilds attack

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<span>Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Chelsea’s plan to rebuild their attack could see them follow their move for Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling by rivalling Arsenal’s bid for Leeds’s Raphinha.

Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s co-owner, has opened talks with City over a deal for Sterling and is ready to back Thomas Tuchel’s desire to bring in two attacking players. Tuchel has considered moves for Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé and Everton’s Richarlison, whose main interest has come from Tottenham, but the head coach is increasingly focusing his attention on Raphinha.

Related: Men’s transfer window summer 2022 – all deals from Europe’s top five leagues

The Leeds winger, who scored 11 goals last season, was widely expected to join Barcelona but financial issues have complicated Barça’s transfer plans and have resulted in Arsenal moving to the front of the queue for Raphinha, who joined Leeds from Rennes for £17m in 2020.

However Arsenal are yet to meet Leeds’s £65m asking price and that could encourage Chelsea to enter the bidding. Tuchel is a fan of the Brazil international and is being given funds by the owners. Sterling, who has held talks with Tuchel about life at Stamford Bridge, is expected to cost at least £50m. City are expected to receive Chelsea’s opening offer for the England forward this week.

Chelsea need to improve their quality in the final third and have agreed to loan Romelu Lukaku to Internazionale. Tuchel would like to build a more versatile attack and Raphinha, who can play in a number of roles across the front line, could constitute smart business.

Tuchel is still monitoring Dembélé, who could leave Barcelona on a free. The France winger has not agreed to extend his contact and wants to decide on his future soon. However his wage demands could be too high for Chelsea, who are yet to make an approach for Richarlison.

Chelsea are also in talks with City over signing Nathan Aké. The centre-back came through Chelsea’s academy and is admired by Tuchel. He could replace Antonio Rüdiger as Chelsea’s left-sided centre-back.

Tuchel is also looking for a right-sided centre-back after the departure of Andreas Christensen. Chelsea are in talks with Juventus over Matthijs de Ligt but if the Dutchman proves too expensive they could make another push to sign Sevilla’s Jules Koundé. Chelsea have also been linked with Inter’s Milan Skriniar, who is a target for Paris Saint-Germain.

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