Premier League • England

Fabrizio Romano gives three Chelsea exits ‘here we go’ treatment and reveals latest shock Saudi approach after done deal

Kalidou Koulibaly and Hakim Ziyech

Three Chelsea players have reached full verbal agreements with clubs in Saudi Arabia, according to Fabrizio Romano, while yet another has been approached.

Various Chelsea players are being linked with moves to the Middle East as the Blues aim to balance the books. The first such exit is that of N’Golo Kante, whose upcoming move to Al Ittihad – the same club that have signed his compatriot Karim Benzema from Real Madrid – has been announced within the last few hours.

Kante will move on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the month. It will bring an end to his seven-year spell with Chelsea and will be his first experience of playing for a club outside Europe.

In addition to the former Leicester City midfielder, three other Chelsea players are due to become opponents to Kante in the Saudi Professional League.

First, Hakim Ziyech has reached a full verbal agreement with Al Nassr, where he will become a teammate to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ziyech almost left Chelsea in January, but the paperwork for a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain didn’t go through in time. Now, he will be leaving for Al Nassr, where he has agreed a contract until 2026.

Next, Edouard Mendy has agreed his own three-year deal with Al Ahli. The Senegalese goalkeeper has lost his place as first choice for Chelsea to Kepa Arrizabalaga and will now make way while the Blues target a new deputy in net.

His compatriot Kalidou Koulibaly, who only joined Chelsea from Napoli last summer, has also agreed a Saudi move, in his case with Al Hilal – who are also signing Ruben Neves from Wolves. Koulibaly’s contract will run until 2026.

In his updates for Ziyech, Mendy and Koulibaly, respected reporter Romano has used his customary ‘here we go’ expression to indicate the moves are about to happen.

Indeed, the three clubs have all agreed terms not just with the players, but with Chelsea too.

Hudson-Odoi approached by Saudi sides

Interestingly, Romano has also revealed that Callum Hudson-Odoi has been approached by two unnamed clubs in Saudi Arabia.

The approaches were lodged on Tuesday, though it is not yet clear if the 22-year-old is ready to take that kind of step after his loan spell with Bayer Leverkusen.

Only one year remains on Hudson-Odoi’s contract at Stamford Bridge. It is fair to say the academy graduate hasn’t quite yet lived up to the potential people believed he had, but turning his back on European football at this stage of his career would come as a major shock.

Nevertheless, Chelsea will commence a new era under Mauricio Pochettino this summer but will need to move forward with a smaller squad than they operated with this season.

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