Premier League • England

Graham Potter all smiles with imminent Chelsea deal delivering dagger to perfect Liverpool swoop

Chelsea manager Graham Potter

Fabrizio Romano has confirmed a Chelsea deal is nearing completion in a move that will lay waste to any faint hopes Liverpool had of securing an audacious midfield swoop.

There’s been very little to cheer about for Graham Potter since he succeeded Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge. The former Brighton boss has mustered a measly 36 winning percentage as Blues boss. Chelsea have bowed out of both domestic cups on his watch and will take a one-goal deficit into the second leg of their UCL Round of 16 clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Potter’s position isn’t understood to be in any great danger despite the dismal record. The Athletic’s David Ornstein and CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs both hold that view.

Todd Boehly and co. are content to absorb short-term pain for long-term gain and according to transfer guru Romano, one Chelsea player is poised to stick it out for the long haul too.

Romano tweeted Chelsea are ‘progressing’ in talks over a contract extension for French destroyer, N’Golo Kante.

The 31-year-old is out of contract at season’s end and there’s been rampant speculation his time in west London could be coming to an end.

Kante has increasingly begun to struggle with injury, though remains an elite-level performer when fit. Prior reports suggested he was demanding a three-year deal, but Chelsea were only willing to sanction two years.

Romano added the length of Kante’s impending new contract is yet to be determined. However, what is clear is a breakthrough is close and there’s ‘optimism’ on both the club and player’s end.

In fact, Romano added Kante has always preferred to remain with Chelsea and his insistence has been a ‘key factor’ in negotiations.

The January arrival of Enzo Fernandez for a British record £106.8m was viewed in some circles as Chelsea laying the foundations for their next generation in the engine room. Indeed, Jorginho departed in the same window.

However, Kante looks destined to remain with the Blues for the long-term.

READ MORE: Real Madrid misery joins lengthening list of Liverpool’s heaviest defeats under Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool hopes up in smoke

When his new deal crosses the line, any faint hopes Liverpool had of pulling off a perfect free agent coup will be resigned to the history books.

Reports out of Spain recently stressed the Reds were sizing up Kante on a free at season’s end.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are known to be hunting midfield reinforcements and their 5-2 humbling against Real Madrid on Tuesday night was another poignant reminder investment is needed.

Jude Bellingham is their primary target, though with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita all out of contract in June, multiple additions will be required.

Kante would’ve represented a magnificent addition to Klopp’s midfield. However, per Romano, the French ace only has eyes for Chelsea and a new deal will soon be signed.

READ MORE: Next Chelsea manager: Todd Boehly plots incredible move for Champions League-winning boss to replace Graham Potter