Premier League • England

Chelsea to sign top target ‘even if it means paying £100m’ as truths emerge about absence from friendly

Chelsea-linked Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo

Chelsea-linked Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo

Chelsea are preparing their latest offer for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo and are increasingly expected to be able to sign him, according to various reports.

Caicedo is the main target Chelsea are focusing on at present as they aim to replenish their midfield. Brighton, who have also sold Robert Sanchez to the Blues this summer and Marc Cucurella last year, are holding out for a high transfer fee, though.

None of Chelsea’s bids for Caicedo have been successful yet. It led to a recent claim by Sky Sports News that Brighton expect him to still be with them by the end of the transfer window.

But various sources are now suggesting that Chelsea have another bid in the pipeline for the Ecuador international. And according to The Guardian, they expect to sign him, ‘even if it means paying £100m’.

So far, the highest Chelsea have gone is £80m, whereas Brighton’s asking price would surpass the nine-figure barrier.

The Daily Telegraph maintains that Chelsea ‘remain intent’ on signing Caicedo not just by the end of the transfer window, but before the Premier League season starts next weekend.

In what some perceived to be a clue about his transfer status, Caicedo was absent from Brighton’s final pre-season friendly match against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

However, it has been clarified that he missed the match due to an injury precaution.

Brighton CEO Paul Barber said: “Moises had a slight hamstring injury late in training and was pulled out for that reason. With a Premier League season just a week away it makes no sense to risk him today.

“We’re looking forward to Moises starting the season with us. He’s a Brighton player under a long-term contract.

“He’s probably one of the most exciting young midfield players in the world at the moment and we’re delighted to have him.”

Caicedo renewed his contract at the Amex Stadium until 2027 with the option of an extra year back in March following Brighton’s avoidance of a sale in the January transfer window.

TEAMtalk understands there is no release clause in Caicedo’s current deal with Brighton, which strengthens their hand in negotiations.

De Zerbi: Caicedo speculation ‘not my problem’

Brighton’s head coach, Roberto De Zerbi, was unable to confirm when Caicedo would be at his disposal again – or if he would remain at the club.

When asked, De Zerbi replied: “I don’t know [if he’ll be back in training on Monday].

“If Moises leaves, we will find another important player. And if Moises stays, I will be happy for us, for the team, for the club.

“But it’s not my problem now… If Moises leaves, we will bring another player in. We are Brighton, and under our policy there is the possibility to lose some players at the end of the season. It was the same for [Alexis] Mac Allister and [Levi] Colwill.”

Chelsea need to strengthen their midfield this summer after losing N’Golo Kante to Al Ittihad, Mateo Kovacic to Manchester City, Mason Mount to Manchester United and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to AC Milan this summer, after Jorginho went to Arsenal back in January.

They are also considering alternative targets such as Leandro Paredes from Paris Saint-Germain, Gabri Veiga from Celta Vigo and Tyler Adams from Leeds United.

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