Chelsea will make a second bid for Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater in the coming week as they attempt to make at least three new signings before the transfer window shuts.
As revealed by Telegraph Sport, Leicester have already rejected one offer from Chelsea of around £15 million for Drinkwater this summer. Drinkwater has been left in the dark over his future, but Chelsea are preparing a second offer that is likely to be worth over £25m for the 27-year-old.
It is understood that Drinkwater is interested in a move to Chelsea, even though he may find himself behind N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas in head coach Antonio Conte’s pecking order. But Leicester could put up a fight for Drinkwater and demand the £40m Chelsea received from Manchester United for Nemanja Matic.
The departure of Matic has left Conte short of options in the middle of the park as he plots how to combine Chelsea’s Premier League title defence with a return to the Champions League.
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Chelsea considered trying to sign Drinkwater along with Kante last summer and have retained an interest ever since.
Other than giving Conte more midfield options, Drinkwater would boost Chelsea’s home-grown quota, which has been reduced by the departures of John Terry, Asmir Begovic and several youngsters. Chelsea have considered a number of home-grown options over the past few weeks, with Everton midfielder Ross Barkley and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also targeted.
A second bid for Drinkwater does not necessarily mean that Chelsea will not also try to add Barkley, who Tottenham are leading the chase for, or Oxlade-Chamberlain to their squad before the transfer window shuts. Conte has made no secret of the fact he thinks the Chelsea squad is currently too thin to cope with the demands of the Premier League and Champions League.
Other than trying to strengthen his midfield, Conte wants at least one new wing-back and a forward player. Chelsea are also considering a bid for central defender Virgil van Dijk, who has asked to leave Southampton.
The Blues have expressed an interest in right-backs Joao Cancelo and Serge Aurier, who are expected to leave Valencia and Paris Saint-Germain. But Juventus have so far held firm in the determination to keep left-back Alex Sandro, despite Chelsea expressing a willingness to pay £60m for the Brazilian.
Chelsea are prepared to move for Danny Rose if Tottenham indicate any willingness to sell, but it remains unlikely the England international will be sold this month despite criticising the club’s wage structure and approach to the transfer market.
Drinkwater missed Leicester’s Premier League defeat at Arsenal on Friday night through injury and Matty James stepped in to deputise. James proved he would be a more than adequate replacement for Drinkwater, but Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare still rates the former Manchester United youngster highly.
Drinkwater joined the Foxes in 2012 and he signed a five-year contract with the club last summer, following the club’s amazing Premier League title success. But, having seen Kante successfully make the move from Leicester to Chelsea and get even better, Drinkwater would like to test himself at a higher level.
Conte had only Kante and Fabregas to pick from in his midfield for Chelsea’s Premier League opener against Burnley on Saturday. Bakayoko is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered while at Monaco last season and is yet to make his Blues debut.
Conte on Friday refused to put a date on Bakayoko’s return, but there have been fears that the Ivory Coast international will not be ready to start a game until September.
Chelsea now face a tough run of fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, with Conte desperate to bring in new faces as quickly as possible.