Chelsea are ready to step up their interest in long-term target Aurelien Tchouameni in January, and could try and seal a deal that would not see him join until the summer, TEAMtalk understands.
The Blues looked closely at a deal for Tchouameni earlier this year, but instead opted to bring in Saul on-loan from Atletico Madrid. Indeed, Chelsea could have sealed a deal for less than £30million for the 21-year-old but now the deal for the Monaco man is in excess of £40m.
Tchouameni is believed to be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge, but the interest in him is growing and growing.
Both Milan clubs are keen, along with Serie A rivals Juventus whilst Paris Saint Germain are also in the running. Liverpool and Manchester United are also looking very closely at the player, having scouted him heavily late last season.
Chelsea – who will benefit from the returning Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour next season – are considering tying up a deal for the player in January, with a view to him joining in the summer. That is similar to what they did to secure the signing of Christian Pulisic in 2019.
The Blues see Tchouameni as someone who would be a long-term replacement for the likes of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho – who currently both have just over 18-months left on their current deals.
Chelsea star on Barca radar
Meanwhile, Cesar Azpilicueta is the latest Chelsea player to emerge onto the radar of FC Barcelona, according to reports.
Barcelona have been linked with a few members of the Chelsea squad recently. They have been tipped to take Saul Niguez next if Atletico Madrid cancel his loan at Stamford Bridge. Furthermore, striker Timo Werner has been suggested as a solution for their attack. In addition, there are claims that Marcos Alonso is actually a Barcelona fan and could join them.
Now, Azpilicueta has also been tipped to switch Stamford Bridge for Camp Nou. In fact, such an idea was mooted a month ago, but now there has been an update that appears to indicate the interest is concrete.
According to ESPN, Barcelona are “monitoring” the defender, who is in the final year of his contract with Chelsea.
Azpilicueta serves as the club’s captain and is a valuable member of their first team. However, he will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January onwards.
With that in mind, Chelsea will have some fears about potentially losing him in 2022. Given that fellow defenders Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Thiago Silva are also all out of contract at the same time, it is a growing concern.
Barcelona have relied heavily on signing free agents while their finances have been poor. In the summer, they acquired the likes of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay on those terms. They have also repeated the strategy to bring back Dani Alves from January.
Azpilicueta versatility impresses Barca
Despite the imminent arrival of the legendary right-back, it is still an area they are looking to strengthen. According to ESPN, they rate Azpilicueta for his ability to play as a centre-back in a back three or a full-back in a four. The idea of him even playing centrally in a four is not discounted either.
Of course, Alves will only sign on until the end of the season. With that in mind, there will be the need to reinforce his position beyond then too. At the age of 32, Azpilicueta still has plenty left in the tank.
Chelsea hope he will give what he has left to them. But he is yet to agree to any new terms. Therefore, Barca are keeping an eye on the situation.
Their new head coach Xavi is reportedly a big fan of Azpilicueta. In fact, they played together on four occasions for the Spain national team.