Premier League • England

Chelsea wear Juventus down, with progress on De Ligt transfer leaving Arsenal vulnerable to counterraid

Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt

Arsenal will be vulnerable to a counterraid by Juventus if Matthijs de Ligt moves to Chelsea, and a transfer source has shed light on the progress the Blues have made.

Chelsea are on the hunt for major additions in two areas this summer. Thomas Tuchel wants mobile wingers to give his forward line a more fluid feel. A deal with Leeds United’s Raphinha has been agreed, though the player prefers a switch to Barcelona.

Talks are also underway with Man City’s Raheem Sterling. However, today’s update regards the other position they’re seeking to revamp – centre-half.

The twin exits of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have left Thomas Tuchel short at the back. The likes of Nathan Ake, Presenel Kimpembe, Jules Kounde and Matthijs de Ligt have been linked with filling the void.

De Ligt, 22, would be the highest profile signing of the lot. He holds a release clause worth a whopping £103m, though the latest from Ben Jacobs suggests a deal can be made for far less.

Jacobs reports for CBS Sports in America and tweeted the Blues are ‘making progress’ on their pursuit of De Ligt.

Describing in what form, Jacobs added Juventus have reportedly lowered their asking price to £70m.

They could hold out for £75m if a bidding war ensues. However, even that price is far below the £103m they were initially hoping to receive.

Juve demand, Chelsea budget revealed

From Chelsea’s end, it’s claimed they’re hoping a deal can be made for between £60m-£65m. Clearly, the two clubs are not that far apart in their respective valuations and the reporter added the inclusion of add-ons to make up the shortfall will be key.

Juve are stated to prefer a straight cash deal. That comes after Blues trio Jorginho, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner were all touted as potential makeweights.

The Italian side are reportedly interested in Jorginho, though any deal on that front would be a separate entity and he’s not currently a part of any bid Chelsea are mulling.

From the player’s end, De Ligt is stated to be ‘very open to the move’.

De Ligt coup bad news for Arsenal?

Should Juventus sell De Ligt, they’ll have an influx of cash burning a hole in their pocket. What’s more, they’ll become the ones with a void at centre-half, and reports out of Italy have suggested Gabriel Magalhaes could fill it.

That’s according to Gazzetta dello Sport, who claimed the Arsenal ace will be Juve’s primary target if De Ligt goes.

Gabriel formed a solid partnership with Ben White last year. William Saliba is poised to be given a chance to shine after three loan spells away. Though if he is thrust into the action, it’s expected it would be White that makes way.

A Juventus raid for Gabriel would therefore give Mikel Arteta a headache he can well do without. Arsenal would be extremely reluctant to sell their centre-back, but Juventus won’t make life easy.