Chelsea summer signing reveals transfer race was ‘very close’ after Liverpool prompted agent’s late input

Denis Zakaria, September 2022

Denis Zakaria has revealed that his Chelsea transfer happened “very close” to the summer deadline, amid further interest from Liverpool.

The Blues signed the Juventus midfielder on a loan deal in the final stretches of the summer market. Having signed two midfielders previously in the window, Chelsea looked like they had finished in that department.

But, like Liverpool, they underwent a U-turn and chased a new recruit on deadline day.

After failing with an offer for Ajax’s Edson Alvarez, they also matched Liverpool – who signed Arthur Melo – in signing a Juventus star on loan.

Chelsea have an option to buy Switzerland international Zakaria next summer for £26million.

Speaking to Blick, the 25-year-old opened up on the Blues’ interest, as well as that from Liverpool.

“It all happened very quickly,” Zakaria said. “I didn’t know a move to Chelsea was possible until six hours before the end of the transfer window.

“I packed my things and waited for the contract to be signed, I then did the medical check in Turin and it went through. It was very close.”

Asked about the interest from Anfield, Zakaria added: “I heard that from my agent, but in the end it was Chelsea, and I think I’ll be happier in England than in Turin.”

Zakaria unsure on Juventus future

Zakaria moved to Juventus from Borussia Monchengladbach in January 2022.

But after only 15 appearances for the Turin club and despite his contract only expiring in 2026, he has painted a bleak picture over his chances of staying at the Serie A side.

“It’s difficult to say what went wrong [at Juventus],” Zakaria said. “Maybe the style of football wasn’t suited to me.

“The team sat very deep, so I didn’t have much space. I’m a player who needs a lot of space for my runs. It might suit me better in England.

“Massimiliano Allegri is a good person, I can say that for sure. Maybe the team didn’t play that well, which is a shame, as with the talent in that squad, they can do much better.”

Zakaria also said that he “wanted to work with Thomas Tuchel”, who got the sack as Chelsea boss only a few days after transfer deadline day.

Graham Potter has stepped into the Stamford Bridge dugout, but kept Zakaria on the bench in his only game so far – last week’s 1-1 Champions League draw with RB Salzburg.

Chelsea man needs new adventure

Zakaria may well feel like he is stuck in a bit of a rut after leaving Juventus.

The midfielder’s comments clearly suggest that he was not happy in Turin.

And he felt working with Tuchel would have helped to bring the best out in him.

However, he now has to adapt to Potter’s methods and it remains unclear whether the new manager will take to him.

The two recent Premier League postponements will have done nothing to settle the state of limbo Zakaria is in.

The Switzerland midfielder needs to put aside his grievances over the summer and accept that he is in it for a new challenge. Chelsea have big ambitions this season and Zakaria could yet play a part in trophy successes this campaign.

If he impresses, he may even get a permanent move to Stamford Bridge.

READ MORE: Chelsea star got ‘so wound up’ with Tuchel after ex-boss torpedoed big Champions League promise