Premier League • England

Chelsea break clear from Liverpool, Man Utd for striker who’ll represent the bargain of a lifetime

Germany striker Youssoufa Moukoko

Chelsea have been labelled the frontrunners in the race to sign a Germany striker by two separate sources, though one observer suggested Man Utd could spring a surprise.

Jude Bellingham is Borussia Dortmund’s most prized asset, though the Englishman isn’t their only teenage sensation. Striker Youssoufa Moukoko, 17, is already playing at a level well beyond his years and has accrued over 50 first-team appearances already.

Moukoko has started more than he’s been benched for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this season. He’s returned six goals and four assists in 14 appearances, including scoring against bitter rivals Bayern Munich.

Moukoko earned a spot in Hansi Flick’s Germany squad for the World Cup despite his tender age. The Germans bowed out in the group stage for the second tournament running, and perhaps would’ve benefitted from giving Moukoko a chance after receiving just a single minute of action.

Regardless, one might expect a player of Moukoko’s sky high potential to already have an eye-watering valuation hanging over him. But given the player’s contract situation, that’s not the case.

Moukoko is out of contract at season’s end and that’s sparked rampant speculation he’ll be on the move in 2023.

Dortmund are understandably keen to tie the striker down to fresh terms. They’ll be banking on the good relations held between the player and Dortmund boss, Edin Terzic.

However, if a new deal remains unsigned, Moukoko can pen a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs come January 1. Predictably, there’s mass interest.

Prem’s big hitters line up for Moukoko

Sky Germany report Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle are all exploring a move. CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs claimed Tottenham are in the frame from England too.

From further afield, Barcelona are sizing up a move and the fact Moukoko might not cost a fee would be a godsend for the cash-stricken Catalonians.

There had been talk in recent days Moukoko was on the verge of dashing every suitor and signing a new deal at Dortmund. However, according to the player’s agent, those claims are wide of the mark.

Moukoko’s agent, Patrick Williams, said via Sky Germany: “I can confirm that we are not yet about to sign a contract extension with Borussia Dortmund.

“I can also assure you that the numbers that are circulating [a Dortmund offer of around £90,000-a-week) are simply not correct and Youssoufa was never offered that. But we are still in contact with Borussia Dortmund and will see what the next few days bring.”

Sky Germany’s Marc Behrenbeck ran the rule over who could pounce for Moukoko, naming Chelsea as the “closest” side to completing a deal.

“It is clear that a lot of top clubs are asking about Moukoko and are keen on him as he is available on a free transfer in the summer and is a bargain,” said the German journalist.

“We hear that Chelsea are the closest. There have already been negotiations and talks.

“More clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona and Newcastle are on the list, but Chelsea is the hottest, the others aren’t ready yet.

Ben Jacobs too named the Blues as the frontrunners, tweeting they’re “leading the race”.

Chelsea leading, but Man Utd could pounce

The transfer saga is unlikely to be a straightforward one given the mass interest, however.

Indeed, Jacobs reported Chelsea’s initial plan was to sign Moukoko for free next summer, though they may be forced into accelerating the move and paying a modest fee in January to fend off the competition.

Jacobs added signs of Chelsea progress could also spark Man Utd into action. The Red Devils too are mulling whether to stump up a fee in January with it now looking unlikely someone won’t pounce ahead of time.

When asked about the rampant speculation, Moukoko’s agent suggested he’ll continue to ‘do his job’. In other words, he’ll explore any and every offer that comes his client’s way and a Dortmund stay is far from assured.

“Be sure: we do our job!” added Williams. “A player like Youssoufa is interesting for all top clubs in the world. Especially when he is free of charge and has a future in the German national team.”

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