Premier League • England

‘He thinks that too’ – Chelsea on alert as agent confirms target ‘ready’ for move

Giorgio Chiellini sat with Juventus team-mate Matthijs De Ligt

Matthijs De Ligt is leaning towards a transfer away from Juventus amid links with Chelsea, his agent Mino Raiola has hinted.

De Ligt has been mentioned as one of the options Chelsea are looking at to strengthen their defence. Four of their centre-backs are out of contract at the end of the season. They will need to find replacements if any of them leave.

There remains optimism that Thiago Silva will extend his deal. There are more doubts for Cesar Azpilicueta or Antonio Rudiger, though. As for Andreas Christensen, the situation is still uncertain.

Whatever happens, Chelsea know they need to replenish the ranks. With that in mind, they were already trying to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla in the summer.

They ultimately disagreed over the asking price. Ever since, Chelsea have been keeping Kounde in mind while weighing up some alternatives.

One of the other defenders they are now thinking about is De Ligt. He joined Juventus from Ajax in 2019 but has had to be patient to fulfil his potential.

It is still tough for the 22-year-old to get past veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the pecking order. Therefore, it is not unfeasible that Juventus will move him on due to his high wages.

Chelsea could be his takers in that case. Although they would still have to invest heavily to get him.

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They have recently received encouragement that the Netherlands international could be on the move, though. According to his agent Raiola, De Ligt “is ready for a new step… he thinks that too.”

The comments came in an interview with NRC in De Ligt’s homeland. It remains to be seen whether the player himself will respond.

Prior to Juventus’ clash with Chelsea in the Champions League last month, he insisted he was simply focusing on the present and his dream of winning the Champions League with Juventus.

Matthijs de Ligt Juventus September 2021

De Ligt is still under contract in Turin until 2024. He has made 94 appearances for them since joining.

The centre-half has also been linked with Tottenham and Manchester City. But Chelsea appear to be his most concrete suitors in the Premier League.

Tottenham link for Chelsea star De Ligt could replace

As well as potentially competing for De Ligt, Tottenham and Chelsea could be embroiled in a direct tug-of-war over the future of Rudiger.

Football Insider claims that Spurs sporting director Fabio Paratici is working hard on a deal to land the imposing Germany centre-back on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Signing the 28-year-old would be a massive coup for Tottenham, especially with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG also chasing his signature.

However, to get their man they will have to break the bank in terms of wages. Players that move on free transfers do tend to demand greater salaries and signing-on bonuses. That is what Tottenham will have to do to agree to snap up Rudiger.

Levy and Paratici also have to deal with the fact that foreign clubs can agree a pre-contract with the defender from January.

Real have long been touted as Rudiger’s preferred destination. However, Football Insider claims that Tottenham are hoping the combination of Paratici and Antonio Conte can convince the player to remain in England.

Rudiger has kept 18 clean sheets in his 35 Premier League outings for Chelsea since the beginning of last season. Tottenham, meanwhile, have only managed 18 shutouts in their last 52 league games.

Conte is known to want at least one new centre-back in January, especially with Cristian Romero currently sidelined. And Rudiger would be the sort of hardened, experienced player that he is looking for.

Now the onus is on Levy to try and persuade the former Roma man that Spurs are the right choice.

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