Premier League • England

Predatory Chelsea finalise January plan to sign unsettled Prem ace

Steve Pearson
France trio Anthony Martial, Lucas Digne and Paul Pogba

Chelsea have settled on the structure of a deal they hope will be enough to land unsettled Everton star Lucas Digne in January, per a report.

The strength of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea has undoubtedly been their rock-solid defence. However, for the first time in the German’s reign, questions are beginning to be asked about his rearguard.

No fewer than four of Chelsea’s centre-halves are out of contract next summer. Whether that is having an impact on their form on the pitch, only they will know.

The problems do not stop there, however, with left-wingback becoming a point of contention following Ben Chilwell’s injury.

The England international suffered a partially torn ACL injury in Novemeber. The club opted to hold off on surgery for the time being, though going under the knife remains a distinct possibility.

Marcos Alosno has returned to the eleven in Chilwell’s absence. However, the Spaniard has looked far from his best in recent weeks.

Saul Niguez is another option having been deployed at left-wingback in his latter Atletico Days – much to his chagrin. Cesar Azpilicueta or Reece James could also deputise on the left, though neither are ideal solutions.

As such, the Blues were recently linked with snatching Everton’s Lucas Digne in January.

Chelsea target Everton's Lucas Digne

Chelsea could target Lucas Digne after Benitez fall out.

The French international, 28, would seemingly be a perfect fit for Tuchel’s demands. Digne is known for his lethal delivery and willingness to bomb forward at every opportunity.

Under normal circumstances, the Toffees would be reluctant to allow such a strong performer to leave. However, his relationship with Rafael Benitez has soured in recent weeks.

Digne was omitted from Everton’s squad to face Arsenal last Monday following an alleged argument in training. Benitez hinted the left-back could return for the trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday, though Digne was again missing from the squad.

Chelsea want loan with summer option

Now, CaughtOffside (citing Tódófíchájés), have reported Digne is the option Chelsea and Tuchel ‘like the most’.

And in order to make the deal happen, they are stated to have drawn up a loan deal with a 25m (£21.3m) option to buy in the summer.

The Benitez rift has ‘opened the door’ to a Digne exit. On the player’s end, Digne is allegedly open to the upwards move too.

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Merson hints Tuchel could sell record-breaker

Meanwhile, Paul Merson has cast serious doubt over Romelu Lukaku and his Chelsea future by suggesting people are starting to think the German “does not fancy” the record Blues signing.

Ahead of their match against Everton, Merson told Sportskeeda: “I think this is an easy one to call, so I predict a 3-0 win for Chelsea. Everton are sitting ducks at the moment and I just don’t give them a chance.

“They [Everton] were fortunate to beat Arsenal and didn’t do anything extraordinary that day. They just showed a lot of heart and scored an absolute peach to win it late in the game.

“If you look at Everton’s Premier League record in recent weeks, it’s been dismal. They’ve only got five points from a possible 30 and are bottom of the table if you only consider results from October.

“The only question for Chelsea is Romelu Lukaku’s situation. He’s clearly back fully fit now, but when is he going to get back into the team? If he stays on the bench for a few more games, people will start to wonder if Thomas Tuchel really fancies him or not.”

READ MORE: Real Madrid the ‘favourites’ to land Chelsea man as Blues ‘open the door’ for exit