Premier League • England

Newcastle transfer bad news for Tuchel, with Chelsea favourite next to move

Steve Pearson
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Cesar Azpilicueta Zenit v Chelsea December 2021

Newcastle’s proposed move for Kieran Trippier could be bad news for Thomas Tuchel after a report revealed a Chelsea ace has been earmarked as the perfect replacement.

Newcastle are aiming to spend their way out of trouble in the winter window. A wholesale reshaping of their backline has been touted, with Atletico Madrid’s Trippier potentially the first piece of the puzzle.

While that would be superb news for the Magpies, it could have an unwanted knock-on effect at Stamford Bridge.

That’s according to Football Espana (citing Spanish outlet AS), who state Atletico could try their luck over Cesar Azpilicueta once Trippier departs.

The Chelsea captain, 32, has taken a surprise back-seat this season.

He has been an unused substitute in seven of their last 13 league matches. However, his versatility and leadership qualities ensure he remains an integral member of Tuchel’s squad in a broader sense.

Atletico won’t waste time in finding replacement

Azpilicueta is in the final year of his contract in the capital. That prompted interest from Barcelona, but it is La Liga rivals Atletico that will now have a greater desire to land the veteran.

Football Espana reckon Azpilicueta will be available for an ‘affordable’ fee ‘this month’. That would suggest Atletico will look to sign their Trippier replacement straight away, rather than wait until Azpilicueta is a free agent in six months’ time.

Newcastle making Trippier first of four January signings

The Trippier transfer is all but confirmed at this point.

Atleti manager Diego Simeone is reportedly enamoured with Azpilicueta’s versatility. His ability to play at full-back, wing-back or on a three-man backline has caught Simeone’s eye.

If and when Trippier leaves for Newcastle, Atletico could hand Chelsea a huge decision to make soon after.

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Chelsea could follow Tottenham transfer example

Meanwhile, 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 Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger leave this year.

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.

According to Fanatik, Atalanta will use their option to buy Demiral for €27m, but could then move him on for a big profit. Atalanta used that same tactic to great effect in the summer when signing then selling Cristian Romero on the same day for huge profit.

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