Mauricio Pochettino is ready to cut a swathe through the Chelsea squad with eight stars already cleared to leave Stamford Bridge and on the brink of sealing moves elsewhere.
The Argentine has been chosen to lead the Blues into what co-owner Todd Boehly hopes will be a bright new era. The American appears to have made quite a sigificant mess since his takeover of the Blues one year ago. And despite spending the best part of £600m on new players, Chelsea appear significantly weaker than they did 12 months ago.
As a result, Pochettino inherits what previous boss Graham Potter bemoaned as a ‘bloated squad’. And sorting the wheat from the chaff will be the first thing on Pochettino’s agenda.
However, it seems he has very quickly made his feelings clear with several stars already nearing exits.
To begin with, reports in Italy claim talks have already been held with Inter Milan over four potential deals. And Kalidou Koulibaly, Romelu Lukaku, Edouard Mendy and Trevoh Chalabah are all of interest to the beaten Champions League finalists.
While Chalabah came through the ranks at Chelsea, the other three all arrived for sizeable fees. Indeed, the Blues are likely to make significant losses on Koulibaly (£33m from Napoli) and Lukaku (£97.5m from Inter) if they are to leave.
Lukaku has just spent the 2022/23 season on loan back at his former club and has made his desire to sign permanently clear.
Funds though are not exactly flush at the San Siro and there remains some negotiations still to be done. AC Milan could yet make a counter offer for the Belgian, though any move would be seen as hugely controversial.
N’Golo Kante transfer to Saudi Arabia confirmed by Romano
With the quartet likely to be Italy-bound, they could be soon joined by Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 27-year-old has been in talks over a move to AC Milan for some time. Now it seems an agreement is reportedly close.
Those five will be joined out the door by Mateo Kovacic, who is destined to sign for Manchester City. The Croatian has reportedly agreed personal terms with the European champions, having also fired a ‘very bad’ parting shot at Chelsea.
Following them will be Mason Mount; the England midfielder setting his heart on a move to Manchester United. That deal, however, still has some way to go before an agreement is reached.
Those seven players will be beaten out the door, however, by one player Pochettino surely did not want to lose: N’Golo Kante.
He has been offered fresh terms by the Blues but is ready to try his luck elsewhere with talks over a move to Saudi Arabia in the works.
Now according to Fabrizio Romano, a move to Al Ittihad has been agreed.
The 32-year-old has signed a deal worth around €100m a year – around £1.6m per week. The first part of Kante’s medical checks have been done, going through without any issues. And the reporter has called it ‘the end of an era’, giving the deal his ‘here we go’ seal of approval.
Chelsea target Andre Onana and Dusan Vlahovic signings
It’s not all bad news and departures for Chelsea and Pochettino, however. And talks are reportedly progressing over what the Argentine hopes will be the first two signings of his era.
And as part of those talks to offload four stars to Inter, Chelsea have also been in negotiations over Andre Onana.
The Cameroon keeper has established himself as one of the best around during a stellar season with Inter.
Rated at around €50m, Chelsea will have to dig deep to get their hands on the former Ajax custodian. However, with Inter discussing four potential makeweights, there appears a confidence a deal will be agreeed one way or another. It’s not yet known whether the signing of Onana will go through separately or as part of a multi-player swap.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Chelsea’s next signing will also be from Italy too.
And the Italian paper claims Juventus director Giovanni Manna has met with Chelsea officials to discuss the sale of Dusan Vlahovic.
The Bianconerri are open to the sale of several top stars after missing out on Champions League football next season.
As one of their highest earners, towering Serbian striker Vlahovic looks likely to be sacrificed.
However, any ideas Chelsea had of a potential swap – Christian Pulisic has been mentioned – have been waved away. That’s after Manna reportedly informed the Blues that Juve are only willling to consider a straight cash sale.
Bayern Munich are also among his suitors, with a fee of around €70m (£60m) required.