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Chelsea have drawn up an eight-man list of defenders in a bid to move as quickly as possible to solve the club’s centre-back crisis once the Todd Boehly-led takeover goes through.
Sources believe Boehly’s takeover is now close to being fully approved with optimism on all sides that it will be completed before the May 31 operating licence deadline.
Chelsea plan to move quickly in the transfer market once the club is given the green light to resume normal business under Boehly, with Jules Kounde and Josko Gvardiol both near the top of their list of defensive targets.
Kounde is expected to move to Stamford Bridge 12 months after seeing a transfer to Chelsea fall through after Sevilla moved the goalposts on a deal. He would solve the club’s problem on the right side of Thomas Tuchel’s back three, with Andreas Christensen joining Barcelona and Cesar Azpilicueta’s future still in doubt.
RB Leipzig's Gvardiol is a left-footed central defender and would help make up for the loss of Real Madrid-bound Antonio Rudiger. The 20-year-old is rated as one of Europe’s top defensive talents and can also fill in at left-back.
With Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur also in the market for central defenders, Chelsea could face competition for Gvardiol and some of the other names on their list of potential targets such as Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez, who has been tracked by Blues scouts for a number of years.
Head coach Tuchel has hinted in recent weeks that he may need more than two central defenders to cover for the loss of Rudiger, Christensen and the doubts over Azpilicueta, with Thiago Silva set to celebrate his 38th birthday in September.
Other than defenders, Tuchel could try to sign a new midfielder and has made it clear he needs to look at his attack but incoming business in both of those positions may be impacted by departures.
Midfielders Jorginho and N’Golo Kante only have one year remaining on their contracts, while Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech would be open to moves away from Stamford Bridge this summer. Christian Pulisic could consider his future if Chelsea receive a bid for the American.
Chelsea have fallen behind Real Madrid and Liverpool in the race to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, while West Ham United have claimed to value Declan Rice at £150million.
Selling one or all of Werner, Ziyech and Pulisic could see Chelsea consider a move for Raheem Sterling, who has one year remaining on his Manchester City contract and is yet to decide on his future.
Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal would also be interested in Sterling, but Chelsea would be a more attractive option at this stage of the 27-year-old’s career were he to decide against signing an extension at City.
Romelu Lukaku and his representatives will speak to Tuchel and Chelsea’s new owners about the Belgian’s future, while the German is expected to allow Marcos Alonso to leave if the club’s valuation of the left-back is matched. Barcelona have been linked with a move for Alonso.
Other than moving quickly in the transfer window, Chelsea’s new owners will start work on new contract offers for Mason Mount, who won the club’s player of the year award, Reece James and possibly goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.