Sir Jim Ratcliffe has handed Chelsea major Michael Olise transfer advantage amid Man United chaos

Michael Olise of Crystal Palace reacts during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on May 19, 2024 in London, England.
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Chelsea manager Enzo Maresca will certainly have his hands full in his first preseason at Stamford Bridge ahead of the summer transfer window opening later this week.

The Blues boss will officially join the club on July 1 but will no doubt be planning his squad out and have constant communication with those higher-up about potential transfer targets. The club already secured their first arrival of the window in the form of Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo, who joined on a free transfer.

The 26-year-old's arrival is seen by many as an attempt to patch the hole in the club's defensive unit left by the departure of Thiago Silva after the 39-year-old left Stamford Bridge following a stellar four-year stint to return to his former club Fluminense in Brazil. And with plenty of incomings and outgoings expected from the Blues in order to balance out their books in relation to the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSRs) this summer, Maresca will be busy bolstering his squad to his liking ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.

Having already spent more than £1 billion on signings since Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Consortium took over the club in 2022, with a number of those on long-term contracts in order to amortise the payments, it's clear there'll be no slowing down from the west London outfit who are rumoured to be continuing to push for young talents that fit their model.

The £115 British transfer record fee for Moises Caicedo, £62m for Romeo Lavia, £105m on Enzo Fernandez and £60m on Mykhailo Mudryk are just some of the major deals they've completed, with deals for young South Americans like Kendry Paez also on the books who will join the club in one year's time.

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They've also long been interested in Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise, who they almost managed to secure last summer when activating his £35m release clause before Eagles chairman Steve Parish secured the 22-year-old's future for at least one more season with a new contract - to everyone's surprise.

However, the former Cobham star is also on Manchester United's radar, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe looking to bolster his club's squad for a top four push next season. Olise's impressive displays, which saw him score 10 goals and provide six assists in just 19 appearances in the league over the campaign, have caught the eye of the INEOS billionaire who is said to hold Olise as a priority target this summer.

But now the Man United minority owner may have accidentally given one of his club's rivals a big advantage in the race for the Crystal Palace winger amid the uncertainty around Erik ten Hag's future. The Dutchman's FA Cup final win last month over rivals Manchester City may have saved his skin, given the amount of time it's been since the end of the season. There's been little update since as to whether he'll be in the dugout next season.

A deadline on Ratcliffe's decision was set for later this month following a meeting with ex-Blues boss Thomas Tuchel two weeks ago but the German left the meeting with the mindset that he needed a break from management over the summer, effectively ruling him out of the race for the role.

While the Red Devils have other options like Roberto De Zerbi, Gareth Southgate and Pochettino on their radar, they're far behind Chelsea business-wise this summer. Compared to them, it seems as though Boehly and company have sorted everything out before the European Championships have begun, securing their manager in Maresca and their first signing in Adarabioyo.

In the eyes of Olise, who is said to be torn between the two clubs, one situation looks far more in control and one looks a lot more chaotic behind the scenes, with a clear lack of conviction and hesitancy in their decision-making. It's the difference the Blues could utilise to their advantage in the race for the 22-year-old as they pull ahead of United with both sides tussling for his signature.