Premier League • England

Potter facing midfield crisis with Barcelona sizing up vital Chelsea star to replace departing legend

Chelsea midfielders Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic

The futures of two vital Chelsea midfielders including Jorginho are coming to a crossroads after Barcelona determined he ”ticks all the boxes’ to replace a club legend, per a report.

Chelsea made headlines with their colossal £254m spend in the summer window. However, what went under the radar in certain sections of the media was the fact a sizeable chunk of that investment was in youth.

Indeed, the Blues forked out around £41m on teenage trio Gabriel Slonina, Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei.

The latter two are central midfielders and that was the first indication Chelsea’s engine room is in the early stages of a major revamp.

The linchpins of their midfield over recent seasons have been Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.

However, Jorginho and Kante are both over 30 and out of contract in 2023 . What’s more, Chelsea have concerns over the pair.

The Evening Standard previously reported Chelsea have a sneaking suspicion Jorginho is running his contract down ahead of a free agent exit. He’ll be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with non-English clubs come January 1.

Kante, meanwhile, was reportedly asked to ‘compromise’ on his wage demands as one of Thomas Tuchel’s last acts.

Chelsea are growing increasingly concerned about the Frenchman’s injury record. At 31, his trouble with injuries is unlikely to ease and the Athletic added Kante was verbally offered an extension worth one year less than he hoped for.

Jorginho to replace Busquets?

It’s looking entirely possible that Chelsea could lose one or both of their reliable engine room operators over the next year. And according to the Mirror, Jorginho could wind up in Barcelona.

They report the Spanish side are ‘considering a move’ for Jorginho next summer when he’ll be available for free.

Xavi is searching for a successor to club legend Sergio Busquets. The midfield metronome is 35 and like Jorginho, will see his contract expire next summer. The inference in the report is Busquets will be moved on at season’s end.

Barcelona have reportedly determined Jorginho ‘ticks all the boxes’ to fill Busquets’ boots. The fact he’ll potentially be available for nothing is a big plus for Barca who continue to weave their way around financial difficulties.

Jorginho will be free to talk to Barcelona if they make an approach from January 1 onwards. If the Blues were to lose Jorginho, retaining Kante would assume even greater importance.

Barcelona spectre looming large over Chelsea

Barca became Chelsea’s worst enemy this summer, signing two of their players as well as acquiring two confirmed targets.

They landed Andreas Christensen on a free and brought Marcos Alonso back to Spain too.

Chelsea saw a bid for Raphinha accepted, though the player only had eyes for Barcelona. Once Xavi’s side firmed up their interest, Chelsea were left in the lurch despite their offer being higher.

The Blues were also hot on the trail of Jules Kounde and came close to landing the Sevilla centre-half.

However, the lure of Barcelona again proved pivotal, with the French international ultimately joining Barca for around £42m.