Premier League • England

Chelsea rival plotting clever forward raid to swing top four battle, as Potter action hints at damaging transfer’s fate

Chelsea manager Graham Potter and forwards Hakim Ziyech and Armando Broja

A contender for the Champions League places are one of two clubs plotting January moves for a Chelsea forward whose future has been hinted at by both a trusted source and Graham Potter’s recent actions.

Leicester City are the only side outside of the traditional ‘big six’ to break the stranglehold on England’s Champions League places over the last 17 years. Everton finished fourth under David Moyes in 2004-05.

The Foxes memorably lifted the title in the 2015-16 campaign. However, despite successive near misses under Brendan Rodgers, they’ve been unable to break back into the top four since.

Following their Saudi-led takeover, the common consensus was it was just a matter of time before Newcastle crash the party.

The Magpies currently lay in fourth and with the absence of European football freeing up their midweeks, Eddie Howe’s side look capable of upsetting the odds earlier than many expected.

Pep Guardiola is one figure who believes Newcastle must already be taken seriously. The likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd and Tottenham will all be wary of their top four status being in even greater jeopardy than usual this season.

Now, CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs has claimed Newcastle are sizing up a Chelsea raid that would simultaneously aid their top four cause and weaken Chelsea’s.

He reports Newcastle – as well as Everton – are eyeing up a loan move for Armando Broja in January.

To sweeten the deal for Chelsea, they both won’t insist on an option to buy being included. Aged just 21, Broja is seen as a rising star and Chelsea would be reluctant to sell him outright.

Broja is a growing influence at Stamford Bridge having signed a new six-year deal in September. He’s featured in each of the last six Premier League matches under Graham Potter, starting against Brentford and scoring against Wolves.

Jacobs went on to hint at the outcome of any such approaches from Newcastle and Everton, and it makes grim reading for the suitors.

He added Broja has been reassured he’s an ‘integral’ part of Potter’s plans moving forward. His regular minutes of late, albeit mainly from the bench, show Potter is backing up his words behind the scenes with action.

Furthermore, Jacobs claimed that Chelsea as a club do not want to lose Broja. That would suggest their decision-makers, including Todd Boehly, also like what they see from the Albanian.

Broja sees “massive opportunity” at Chelsea

The striker recently spoke in a press conference ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League tie with Dinamo Zagreb.

“I see it as a massive opportunity,” Broja said of his long-term Chelsea deal (via the BBC).

“This is my boyhood club and I love to play for Chelsea, the fans and the club, so I will do my best and give it my all to try to break into the starting line-up.

“I want to keep improving as a player and person.”

Broja rose to prominence last season during a fruitful loan spell with Southampton. While he was “excited” to get his Premier League chance with the Saints, he admitted: “Stepping up to Chelsea is even bigger.

Broja continued: “Everyone knows Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world, so it’s always going to be tough to get into this team.

“The chances I do get I will do my best on the pitch, and I’ll work hard in training to get those.”

READ MORE: Strong new suitor emerges for Chelsea midfielder they could make £32m loss on