Premier League • England

Barcelona go big with surprising offer to lure Chelsea favourite away from Tuchel

Chelsea stars Saul Niguez, Marcos Alonso, Kepa and Cesar Azpilicueta

Barcelona have made a lucrative contract offer to Cesar Azpilicueta, and a worrying update has emerged on the likelihood of Chelsea keeping their captain.

Chelsea’s defence could look unrecognisable by the start of next season. All three of Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are out of contract in the summer.

Chelsea are believed to be keen on tying all three defenders down to new deals. However, the fact all three have been allowed to reach the final five months of their contracts has opened the door for suitors to pounce.

Indeed, all three could sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs at any time. In Azpilicueta’s case, it is a return to Spain with Barcelona that is the biggest threat to Chelsea.

The 32-year-old has been everything Blues fans could’ve hoped for and more over the last decade. That’s despite coming in for bizarre criticism from Neil Warnock earlier this week.

But at 32, Chelsea may wish to be cautious with regards to the length of contract they table.

Indeed, when Thiago Silva arrived from PSG, the classy Brazilian was only offered a one-year deal with an option for a second. His latest contract extension signed last month was also for just 12 months.

Azpilicueta offered two-year deal, option for a third

But according to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Barcelona have no such trepidation on that front.

The trusted journalist tweeted ‘Barcelona have offered Azpilicueta a two-year deal’ that would include an option for a ‘further season’.

That type of longer-term stability could appeal to Azpilicueta, and it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will match that level of commitment.

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Romano added talks between Azpilicueta’s camp and Barca began in December. The ‘final decision’ will rest with the player given his impending free agent status, though he is yet to make up his mind.

For their part, Chelsea are deemed hopeful of extending the Spaniard’s stay in the capital.

However, Romano suggested the player himself has given Chelsea little indication he is going to stay when concluding there is ‘still no communication on the player side’.

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Gallagher impact sees Chelsea drop £100m+ midfield plan

Meanwhile, the success of Conor Gallagher has reportedly had a big impact on Thomas Tuchel’s transfer strategy, as Chelsea now look set to drop their interest in a top-quality midfielder.

Gallagher’s exceptional form while on loan at Crystal Palace has led to rumours of a permanent move. Eagles manager Patrick Vieira is certainly a big fan of his talent and work rate.

But according to The Evening Standard, Chelsea have no intention of selling the 22-year-old. Instead, he will become a part of Tuchel’s senior squad on his return to Stamford Bridge next term.

The German has reportedly been ‘hugely impressed’ by Gallagher and now wants him to compete for a midfield spot. He will rival the likes of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic for a regular starting spot.

Gallagher’s return to Chelsea will reportedly see the Blues drop their interest in a £100million man. The Evening Standard go on to state that Declan Rice will not be targeted if Gallagher returns this summer.

Chelsea dropping out of the transfer race could see Manchester United or even Real Madrid land Rice once the window reopens.

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