Football transfer rumours: Álvaro Morata and Tiemoué Bakayoko to Chelsea?

Simon Burnton
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata: his team-mates want him to stay, Chelsea want hi m to leave.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Ciambelli/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Real Madrid’s Álvaro Morata: his team-mates want him to stay, Chelsea want hi m to leave. Photograph: Ciambelli/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Álvaro Morata has “almost decided to leave Madrid”, according to the Spanish newspaper AS, and is likely to fall into the clutches of the coach who signed him the last time he moved away from Spain back in 2014: Antonio Conte. Chelsea are ready to spend £56m to secure the Spanish striker, which would give Real a profit of some £30m on the amount they spent to buy him back from Juventus last summer, since when he has been on the field for just 35% of the current league campaign.

The prospect of remaining in Spain might become even less appealing if Florentino Pérez, the Real president, follows through with his threat to sign the coveted Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappé. The confusing thing about this transfer is that the striker’s team-mates think it’s a great idea – “We know that sooner or later he will end up at Real Madrid, Barcelona or a club of that calibre,” says Fabinho – but according to Don Balon Real’s current players are not at all in favour, believing the club should ignore Mbappé and keep Morata.

But clever Chelsea are one step ahead here. Mbappé, you see, might be more likely to want to leave Monaco should the French club’s thrilling young side already be in the process of being broken up and sold piecemeal to the highest bidder, and Chelsea have already got that process under way. Apparently they have agreed a deal to take Tiemoué Bakayoko from the club for £35m, and what’s more have concluded negotiations with the player’s representatives over a five-year contract, and all that remains is for contracts to be signed and press conferences to be called.

Manchester United, who were also believed to want Bakayoko,have moved on to other midfield targets. Now they have found out about Marcelo Brozovic’s release clause and are seriously considering spending the £43m it would cost to steal the Croatian from Internazionale this summer. Apparently the man José Mourinho really wants is Brozovic’s club and international colleague Ivan Perisic, but when United’s crack team of transfer negotiators called the Italian club for a chat about him they were told that they would only engage in conversations about Brozovic, and decided not to hang up. What’s more, Mourinho was spotted in Zagreb last week and nobody really believes he was just sightseeing.

Meanwhile United’s long-term target Antoine Griezmann has declared that there is “no need” to leave Atlético because “it’s sunnyin Madrid” and “I feel good there”. This is disappointing news, to be sure, but this kind of declaration is not necessarily transfer-terminal. See for example Mesut Özil, who has told Die Welt that “I feel very comfortable” in London, and is thus not agitating for a transfer, but then strongly hinted he’d be off anyway. “I have a contract until 2018,” he said. “We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

“It could be that centre halves are in big demand this summer and Ben Gibson will be among the most coveted defenders on the market,” trills the Mirror, which on the downside appears to be 100% conjecture and involve not even a vague but transparently empty boast of inside knowledge. They go on to allege that the Middlesbrough-based 24-year-old is interesting every single member of the Premier League top six without exception, of whom “Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have all sent scouts on a regular basis”.

The 19-year-old Dane Mikkel Duelund has described the Premier League as “the league where I want to be playing in the future”, encouraging one-time suitors Liverpool to think they might resurrect a deal for the “new Michael Laudrup”.

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