Chelsea are plotting a surprise move for Liverpool misfit Christian Benteke, will rival Manchester City for Karim Benzema and also want to name Diego Simeone as manager next summer, according to Sunday’s papers.
CHELSEA EYE JANUARY SWOOP FOR BENTEKE
Chelsea are eyeing up a January move for Liverpool striker Christian Benteke to lift the gloom at Stamford Bridge, according to the Sunday People.
The Belgium striker was a priority target on a list assembled by manager Jose Mourinho before he was sacked by the Blues on Thursday.
And it’s also understood the 25-year-old, signed in a £32.5million deal from Aston Villa last summer when Brendan Rodgers was Kop boss, could still be on Chelsea’s wish-list now Guus Hiddink has been placed in caretaker charge.
The stand-in Dutch boss has already identified a lack of goals as a major problem for the struggling Premier League champions – and Benteke is seen as a potential solution.
It’s unlikely Liverpool would agree to a loan deal, even though with Chelsea languishing at the bottom of the table they are not direct rivals for a top four finish.
The paper claims the burly attacker has struggled to adapt to new manager Jurgen Klopp’s style of play more than any of the other stars at Anfield and the German boss is unsure whether he’s the right fit for Liverpool.
That could lead to a deal being done between the clubs once the window opens in January, with Klopp preferring Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino in recent matches.
And in the 10 games he has played under Klopp, the 25-year-old has scored only three times – ironically including one against Chelsea in the 3-1 win at the Bridge at the end of October.
Benteke was a disappointing performer in the 2-2 draw with West Brom a week ago and in the build-up to Sunday’s game at Watford, Klopp hinted the striker is struggling.
“There’s a difference between the way we play and Aston Villa play. If as a striker you don’t feel confident in the game because you aren’t getting enough crosses then you have to move more.
“As a striker you want to play five, six games in a row. At Villa when he was fit he played – but here everything is different.”
Klopp conceded there is work to be done to improve Benteke’s development but some Kop sources believe he may not have the time or patience to change the striker.
Instead, it’s believed, he may sanction offloading him in a bid to fund moves for his own new players.
BLUES WANT SIMEONE APPOINTMENT
Chelsea have been in talks with Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone for the past month after targeting the Argentinian as Jose Mourinho’s successor, according to the Sunday Express.
Former Holland boss Guus Hiddink has agreed to become Stamford Bridge interim manager for the second time while owner Roman Abramovich plans for the long term future.
Abramovich knows that any move for much wanted man, Pep Guardiola, is doomed to failure with Manchester City well down the path to appointing the Bayern Munich boss in the summer.
The Russian oligarch has already suffered one failure in his attempt to bring Guardiola to West London when it became known the Spaniard was leaving Barcelona.
He doesn’t want to be faced with another high profile snub and so has switched his attention to 45-year-old Simeone who has enjoyed four impressed years at Atletico winning La Liga, the Europa League and reaching the final of the Champions League.
An emotional character on the touchline, Chelsea believe that Simeone will immediately engage with the Stamford Bridge fans, many of whom are angry with Mourinho’s sacking.
Simeone who doesn’t speak English is understood to be excited at the prospect of managing in the Premier League having already made the decision to listen to offers at the end of the season, believing his time with Atletico is up.
Chelsea started checking on Simeone’s availability around the time of the November international break as the season under Mourinho unravelled at a frightening rate.
Ideally they were hoping that Mourinho would be able to steady the ship until the end of the season when the Chelsea board would act.
But as the friction between Mourinho and some of his players grew leading to straight Premier League defeats against Bournemouth and Leicester, Abramovich brought forward the parting of the ways.
PREM DUO KEEN ON BENZEMA MOVE
Chelsea and Manchester City are keeping tabs on Karim Benzema’s situation at Real Madrid, with him indicating a willingness to leave the Bernabeu next month, according to the Sunday Mirror.
Benzema is a favourite of Florentino Perez, one of the main reasons Arsenal’s interest in the £23m striker was rebuffed in the summer, and the Real president is keen that he doesn’t leave.
But sources close to Benzema, who turned 28 on Saturday, say he has been underwhelmed by a perceived lack of support from some team-mates over the Matthieu Valbuena sex tape affair in which he has become embroiled and that he is open to a move to the Premier League.
Benzema faces criminal charges after allegations he was involved in an attempt to blackmail France team-mate Valbuena over a sex tape.
He denies any wrongdoing.
AND THE REST
- Watford boss Quique Sanches Flores might have brought in 16 new signings during the summer – but he wants more players to maintain the Hornets’ superb form (Sunday Mirror)
- Aston Villa are ready to rival Norwich City for Steven Naismith’s signature next month (Sunday People)
- Remi Garde wants Monaco captain Jeremy Toulalan to help him lead a French revolution at Aston Villa (Sunday Mirror)
- Roman Abramovich is trying to convince Didier Drogba to end his playing career and return to Stamford Bridge as part of the Chelsea coaching staff (The Sun)
- Roy Hodgson has cautioned Jamie Vardy against quitting Leicester before England head off to next summer’s European Championship (Sunday Mirror)
- Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores has warned predators they will be wasting their time trying to poach Odion Ighalo or Troy Deeney in the January transfer window (Sunday Express)
- Crystal Palace could make German defender Georg Niedermeier their first signing since striking a big-money deal with American investors (Sunday Mirror)
- Schalke defender Joel Matip tops Sam Allardyce’s New Year wish list at Sunderland (Sunday Mirror)
- Everton manager Roberto Martinez is lining up a £20m bid for Ukraine international Andriy Yarmolenko. (The Sun)
- Pep Guardiola wants his next club to make his dream signing – £100m-rated Luis Suarez (Daily Star)
- Marcelo Brozovic’s move to Chelsea could be scuppered by the sacking of Jose Mourinho – with Arsenal and Barcelona ready to swoop (Sunday Mirror)
- Newcastle United and Tottenham are in a race to try and sign Marseille’s Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi (Sunday Express)
- Southampton boss Ronald Koeman sent his brother Erwin to make a personal check on Birmingham hotshot Demarai Gray in the 1-1 draw at Preston in midweek (Sunday Mirror)
- Newcastle United striker Emmanuel Riviere could be rescued from St James’ Park by Lille (Daily Star)
- Manuel Pellegrini fears Pep Guardiola will replace him at Manchester City this summer (The Sun)
- Tottenham will use Andros Townsend as bait in a new bid to lure Victor Wanyama from Southampton next month (Daily Star)