Chelsea are ready to offer a financial incentive to secure a deal for one of their own players after a second option in a problem position was deemed unlikely.
The Blues are facing a mounting issue in their wing-back positions. Reece James is facing up to eight weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Ben Chilwell, meanwhile, could miss the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
Thomas Tuchel does have Marcos Alonso to select on the left side, though the Spaniard’s form has been patchy at best this season.
Cesar Azpilicueta can deputise on both flanks. However, he has mainly featured as a centre-back under Tuchel.
Against Chesterfield on Saturday evening, Tuchel deployed Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi at wing-back. Their lack of defensive capability was predictably not exposed against the League Two outfit. Against Premier League sides and in the Champions League, however, the story may be different.
As such, Chelsea have been tipped to make an addition to their wing-back ranks.
Everton’s Lucas Digne has been touted. The Frenchman’s time at Goodison Park is coming to an end after a falling out with Rafael Benitez.
Digne unlikely; Emerson Tuchel’s No1 choice
But Newcastle and Aston Villa are also hunting the 28-year-old and transfer guru Fabrizio Romano revealed a move to Stamford Bridge is not on the cards.
Romano tweeted Digne to Chelsea is ‘very unlikely’. While not explicitly stated, Romano hinted Everton’s demand that Digne be bought in a permanent deal has deterred Chelsea.
Instead, they are seeking to recall Emerson Palmieri from his loan spell with Lyon.
Chelsea want Emerson back and everyone else is a plan B
Chelsea want Emerson back from Lyon as their main target for LWB. Lucas Digne from Everton is a back up option
The Blues have already tried to recall the Italy international, but their efforts were swiftly rebuffed. Lyon are able to reject Chelsea’s approach for their own player due to them not inserting an official recall clause into the agreement, per L’Equipe.
But according to Romano, Chelsea are now prepared to offer a financial incentive to get Emerson back.
He confirmed Lyon turned down the first approach before writing Chelsea are now ‘prepared to offer compensation’.
Romano concluded that Emerson is the deal ‘Tuchel wants’.
Motivation behind bizarre Chelsea deal revealed
Meanwhile, Maurizio Sarri is hoping to secure a shock Chelsea raid this month, and a potential reason why the unlikely deal could go through has emerged.
Tuchel could be without his No1 goalkeeper until early February with Edouard Mendy away on AFCON duty. That will provide Kepa Arrizabalaga with a chance to shine after featuring mainly as a cup keeper since Mendy’s arrival. However, according to the Athletic, Lazio are seeking to sign Kepa on loan this month.
Obviously, Chelsea would be reluctant to lose their second choice stopper while Mendy is absent. However, they do have Marcus Bettinelli on the books, with the ex-Fulham goalkeeper capable of deputising on occasion. Indeed, Bettinelli was selected to start in their FA Cup third round victory over Chesterfield on Saturday.
Citing the Athletic report, Sports Illustrated reveal Chelsea sought to loan out Kepa last summer. A deal is stated to have been ‘close’, but the Spaniard ultimately remained at Stamford Bridge.
Lazio are now the prime candidate to sign Kepa this month and ESPN suggest a reason why the unlikely deal could occur.
With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar less than a year away, the outlet state international ambitions may be on the 27-year-old’s mind.
His place in the Spanish set-up is in doubt while installed as a back-up goalkeeper at Chelsea. A loan away to generate regular gametime would do his international chances a world of good. Regardless, it still appears highly unlikely Chelsea would sanction Kepa’s exit given Mendy’s absence and their vulnerability to further Covid outbreaks.