Cole Palmer decision and 'next Neymar' axed – Chelsea given final Estevao transfer ultimatum

Estevao of Palmeiras looks on during a Group F match between Palmeiras and Liverpool as part of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2024 at Allianz Parque on April 11, 2024

Chelsea have been urged to think twice before signing Estevao Willian. The 17-year-old winger has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge – as well as nearly every other big club in Europe – as he continues to impress in the Brazilian top flight.

Estevao, who sees his contract at the Allianz Parque expire in 2026, has featured 18 times for Palmeiras this season, scoring seven goals and providing three assists. His impressive performances for Abel Ferreira's side have reportedly courted the interest of the Blues ahead of the summer transfer window.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Chelsea have reached a verbal agreement with the teenage sensation. The report states the west Londoners plan to offer Palmeiras €32m (£27.5m), plus €25m (£21.5m) in performance-based add-ons, for Estevao's signature – a fee which exceeds his €55m (£47.3m) release clause.

For now, it remains to be seen whether or not Chelsea can wrap up a deal for the youngster. Estevao made his debut for the Brazilian giants last year alongside Endrick, who snubbed the west Londoners in favour of Real Madrid.

While Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali won't want to miss out on another exciting prospect, the club have a lot to weigh up before submitting a bid. So, with that being said, has assessed the squad building dilemma that Chelsea face.

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Jake Stokes

Boehly and Eghbali have been heavily scrutinised since taking the reins at Stamford Bridge in May 2022, but nobody can question their ambition. The new Chelsea owners have forked out hundreds of millions on new players, many of whom are far from fulfilling their incredible potential.

While only a few have been given the chance to shine in the first-team, the owners shouldn't be deterred from growing their portfolio. Estevao, who is nicknamed 'Messinho' (which means 'Little Messi' in Portuguese), should be a priority signing for the Blues. The type of talent that Chelsea can't miss out on.

So long as the club handle player development well, which is most cases they have so far, 'stockpiling' shouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately due to the injury crisis at Cobham, Chelsea haven't been able to showcase this as well as they would have hoped, with Romeo Lavia largely absent while Cole Palmer blooms.

One problem the Blues do face is that they could have a LOT of right-wingers in 12 months time. Assuming former Manchester City ace Palmer claims the number ten role, Noni Madueke, Angelo Gabriel (who's spent the season on loan at Strasbourg), Kendry Paez (who arrives from Independiente Del Valle in June 2025), and Estevao (who would also only be able to join in June 2025).

A lot can change in a year and, for what it's worth, Estevao can operate centrally. But just put it this way, do you think Florentino Perez worries about how he would keep Kylian Mbappe, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes, Arda Guler, Endrick and Estevao happy at Real Madrid?

Oliver Jones

In a season that has seen as much inconsistency as Chelsea have under Mauricio Pochettino, supporters and those in the media have been clambering for the Blues to take a step back from their 'project' of buying up the world's supply of young talent. Is Estevao really the answer to their problems?

For me, there's a lot of uncertainty circling around the young Brazilian, and if there's anything Pochettino does need right now, it's to offload those that he sees as droppable - players like Raheem Sterling, who has truly shown nothing of what he's capable of in his two seasons so far as a Chelsea star - and not to bring new ones in.

With other positions around the pitch in need of a bolster, one where you have your club's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year award winner in the form of Cole Palmer, a rising star in Noni Madueke and the likes of Ecuadorian wonderkid Kendry Paez yet to arrive at Stamford Bridge, is it not going a bit too overboard?

If there is any time to get in on the youngster, it'd be now though. With the hype and attraction from bigger European clubs that comes with the nickname 'Messinho', it's good for Chelsea to show that a few rogue seasons aren't deterring them from flexing their transfer market muscles and that they can still compete with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona for signatures.

Ultimately, they'll need to find a way to slot these players together and to actually make it work. No one wants to see Estevao arrive for what could be £50m after add-ons and simply be another cog in the Blues loan machine.

Isaac Johnson

The initial reaction that Chelsea need not sign any more proteges when they require experience is, as a rule, correct. But that does not mean they are not allowed to plan for the future at all.

A move for Brazilian teenager Estevao really depends on what level Chelsea think he can reach within a year or two given his price tag. Will he be the next Neymar or will he be the next Antony?

Of course, it’s hard to judge at this stage but paying out the proposed £52m for a 17-year-old leaves very little room for future profit if sold down the line - and even if not, he’d have to go some to repay that fee. Even the lower initial demand of £30m also being reported is a lot.

Should he indeed turn into a world beater, hardly anyone will be saying the cost is shrewd business. Such a large fee also places undue pressure on a teenager who has only just become eligible for a UK driver's licence.

Chelsea mostly need security for the here and now, not someone who won’t be available for another year, especially with Financial Fair Play in mind. Are Chelsea allowed to invest in the next generation? Of course, but they also must not be negligent to their present financial dangers and the wide options already at their disposal.

Tom Coley

Chelsea are certainly looking at the right players when it comes to stars of the future. Their sights have been set on some of the top talent across the world and ambition to snap them up all is not lacking.

However, and it's a big however, there is yet to be much in terms of a pathway created. Until one of these many young attackers - Deivid Washington, Kendy Paez, Diego Moreira, Angelo Gabriel, and now Estevao - make it into the first team, or are sold for big money on a regular basis, there will be questions over the method.

It is easier said than done, even with the best teenagers available, to properly integrate players and get them up to standards quickly. It took Vinicius Jr several years at Real Madrid, and will Chelsea have the same patience?

Then there's the question of stockpiling, bottlenecking, and blocking Cobham's best. The academy stars on offer cost nothing and are already acclimatised to the club. They also bring connection and intangibles that signings simply can't.

What does signing another young winger mean for two of Cobham's outstanding performers though? Tyrique George has been on the bench but is yet to make his debut whilst Donnell McNeilly has scored 30 goals this season. Why would either of them sign a new deal when their competition costs millions more and history states will get greater chances?