Chelsea are preparing for life without Diego Costa, but they face strong competition from Manchester United for a Serie A starlet – according to Sunday’s papers.
BLUES LINE UP COSTA REPLACEMENT
Chelsea are ‘plotting’ a £75million move for Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller should they be forced to sell Diego Costa this month.
The Spanish international was absent from Chelsea’s 3-0 victory against Leicester on Saturday evening, but Antonio Conte insisted both before and after the game that it was only a back injury ruling him out of action.
However, there are still concerns over whether Costa will return to action next week amid reports of a £30million-a-year move to China and a training ground bust-up with Conte.
If the Blues are left with no option to sell Costa, the Daily Express believe that Muller, who recently said he was unhappy on the bench at Bayern Munich, will be their first choice to replace him.
Muller has been linked with a move to Manchester United in the past but, as they have seemingly turned their attention to Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, it leaves Chelsea free to move in on their former target.
The 27-year-old has only scored once in the Bundesliga this season and was dropped before the winter break for the top-of-the-table clash with RB Leipzig.
UNITED MOVE IN ON CHELSEA TARGET
Chelsea, meanwhile, have a tough fight on their hands to land Atalanta ace Franck Kessie as Manchester United have entered negotiations with the Serie A club – according to reports in Italy via The Sun.
Kessie, who is currently with the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, has been labelled the ‘new Yaya Toure’ has already been the subject of a rejected bid from the Blues.
Now Manchester United are ready to make their move as Jose Mourinho looks to use the funds he has received for Morgan Schneiderlin’s recent transfer to Everton.
Atalanta are believed to be holding out for at least £34million for the 20-year-old midfielder, whose agent revealed back in December that there was a lot of Premier League interest in his client.
AND THE REST
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is also interested in replacing Costa with Real Madrid’s 24-year-old Spain forward Alvaro Morata (Sun)
Blues owner Roman Abramovich is adamant Costa will stay at Stamford Bridge (Daily Mirror)
Paris St-Germain are interested in signing Chelsea’s 23-year-old Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi (L’Equipe – in French)
The French club also want to sign 26-year-old Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke (Express)
Manchester City are considering making a £20m bid for Tottenham’s 23-year-old Wales left-back Ben Davies (Sun)
West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan says the club will not be selling 29-year-old attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet in the January transfer window (Guardian)
At a meeting between Payet’s representatives and club officials, a sale at the end of the season was not ruled out (Sunday Times – subscription required)
Marseille would be willing to loan France international Payet back to West Ham for the rest of the season if the Hammers agree to sell this month (Daily Mail)
Aston Villa hope to sign Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes, 26, on a permanent deal. However, the Premier League club want £10m for the player (Birmingham Mail)
Nottingham Forest are likely to reject any future Derby offers for 26-year-old midfielder Henri Lansbury now that negotiations over a potential US takeover have come to nothing (Nottingham Post)
Brazilian club Corinthians hope to sign 38-year-old former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba (Globo.com – in Portuguese)
Newcastle are considering re-signing 25-year-old England winger Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace (Daily Mail)
Newcastle want to sign Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney, 25, despite the London club valuing the player at £20m (Newcastle Chronicle)
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanaka suggested he would like to re-sign Patrick Bamford after the 23-year-old striker’s loan spell at Burnley was ended by parent club Chelsea (Evening Gazette)
Former Liverpool and Manchester United midfielder Paul Ince is in contention to become the new England Under-21 manager (Mirror)