Premier League • England

Quick profit possible as Chelsea battle former boss and two others for impressive defender

Leonardo Bonucci challenging Merih Demiral

Merih Demiral has emerged onto the radar of Chelsea and other European heavyweights just months after sealing his most recent transfer, according to a report in his native Turkey.

Chelsea are in the process of reshaping their defence due to fears about losing some of their current options. They have secured the services of Thiago Silva for another season after this one. But they are still at risk of seeing Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger leave this year.

All three are out of contract at the end of the season. As such, they can negotiate pre-contract agreements elsewhere. Azpilicueta and Christensen are both targets for Barcelona. Meanwhile, four clubs have apparently opened talks with Rudiger’s representatives.

Chelsea have subsequently been linked with a few defensive targets of their own in case there are gaps to fill. The likes of Jules Kounde and Matthijs De Ligt have been mentioned frequently.

But another – and perhaps cheaper – option could be Merih Demiral. According to Turkish source Fanatik, Chelsea are among a group of clubs looking at the Atalanta centre-back.

Demiral only joined La Dea in the summer, on loan with an option to buy from Juventus. After finding gametime hard to come by in Turin, the 23-year-old is using the spell to get back on track.

So far, he has started 13 games in Serie A this season and five in the Champions League. He also made one substitute appearance in the European competition.

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According to Fanatik, Atalanta will use their option to buy Demiral for €27m, but could then move him on for a big profit.

That’s because he is already attracting interest from Real Madrid, Chelsea, Newcastle and Napoli.

Real Madrid are apparently his prime suitors at present. They want to invest in their defence ahead of the 2022-23 season. Carlo Ancelotti has reportedly asked the Spanish giants to sign Demiral as part of those plans.

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Chelsea, Newcastle enter Merih Demiral battle

But they could face competition from the Premier League, where Chelsea and Newcastle are both listed as admirers.

The reasons for Chelsea’s potential interest have been mentioned already. As for Newcastle, their new owners will be keen to flex their financial muscles to attract high-profile players. Defence is one of the main areas they want to strengthen.

Any deal for Demiral would have to wait until the summer. Therefore, Newcastle could be focusing on other targets for now. They will hope anyone they do bring in can help them escape relegation, thus making them more attractive when the time comes to negotiate for others at the end of the season.

Still, Demiral clearly has major admirers – and could yet remain in Serie A. The former Sassuolo centre-half is also a potential target for Napoli, who need to replenish their defence.

They are close to signing Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Manchester United. However, a deal would not include an option to buy. Therefore, there is every chance they would have to find someone else by the summer.

Demiral already has plenty of experience in Italian football, so could be ideal for them. But interest is growing in him from the Premier League and elsewhere.

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