Chelsea whizz through deal for senior international midfielder, with fringe star close to £9m Prem switch

Denis Zakaria, Switzerland v Bulgaria November 2021

Chelsea have raced through talks with Juventus to reach a speedy agreement over the initial loan signing of Denis Zakaria, reports claim.

The Blues have been seeking senior midfield reinforcements following the additions of two exciting young talents. Cesare Casadei and Carney Chukwuemeka look impressive prospects, but there is a desire for immediate availability.

As a result, Chelsea firmly went after Ajax’s Julian Alvarez with a £43million bid to the Eredivisie club.

But, after making £181million in departures, Ajax firmly put their foot down on the Mexican leaving. And while Alvarez reportedly feels angry at the developments, Chelsea moved swiftly on.

Indeed, there were not even 45 minutes between transfer guru Fabrizio Romano first revealing the Blues’ interest in Juve star Zakaria and both sides reaching an agreement.

Chelsea will reportedly be signing the 25-year-old Switzerland international on an initial loan deal. They will also have an option to make the deal permanently next summer for £30million and will pay all of his wages this season. The player could, if that clause is activated, sign a five-year deal.

Zakaria is subsequently undergoing a medical in Turin before he signs his contract with the Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder, who only moved to Juventus from Borussia Monchengladbach, has played 15 games for the Serie A club.

Zakaria has proved a bit-part player in Italy, though. After six starts from 10 league games last season, he has remained on the bench for two of four games this term.

Intriguingly, Zakaria is the second Juve midfielder to be leaving on deadline day. Liverpool are signing Arthur Melo – also on a loan deal but without an option to buy – as they reinforce their midfield like Chelsea.

Zakaria in, Gilmour out at Chelsea

Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour is closing in on a permanent move to Brighton in a separate – but related – deal.

The Scotland star is moving to the Amex Stadium for £9million, the Daily Mail reports.

Gilmour broke through at Stamford Bridge with the guidance of former midfielder Frank Lampard.

But, after recovering from injury, he has failed to find his feet again in the first team. Last season, Gilmour spent the campaign at Norwich, where he admitted he found their unsuccessful relegation battle tough.

This season, he has only made the bench once in the Premier League for Chelsea. That game was Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton, with Gilmour’s inclusion a sign of boss Thomas Tuchel’s desire for reinforcements.

With Zakaria joining, Chelsea are happy to let Gilmour go.

Sensible deals all round

Zakaria is already a senior international and will arrive at Stamford Bridge with lots of experience.

His 125 Bundesliga outings offer some insight, as do his 40 Switzerland caps.

In the same way Liverpool are using Arthur as a much-needed reinforcement, Chelsea are hopeful Zakaria can make a similar impact.

He will no doubt have to get up to speed with how Chelsea play, but the opportunities to do so will come thick and fast.

With the World Cup fast approaching, Chelsea have a packed schedule of Premier League and Champions League football.

As for Gilmour, it is clear from his exclusion from the matchday squad – until a Chelsea selection crisis hit – where the Scot lay in the pecking order.

He will therefore relish his move to Brighton and £9million for the 21-year-old is impressive business.

Brighton have caught the eye this term, with Graham Potter quickly earning more plaudits as one of the brightest managers in the Premier League.

And the fact it is a permanent deal means Gilmour will no longer have to look over his shoulder about his short-term future.