Premier League • England

Chelsea raid Barcelona for ‘top-level specialist’ to replace summer 2022 signing in ruthless upgrade

Alejandro Balde, Pablo Torre and Inaki Pena

Unhappy with one of their signings from last summer, Chelsea are ready to go back into the market to sign an upgrade in the same position, according to a report.

In the summer of 2022, Chelsea spent more money on signings than any other club had ever done before in a single transfer window. It was quite the statement of intent from new owner Todd Boehly at the first time of asking.

However, the results on the pitch since have – perhaps understandably – been mixed. Thomas Tuchel lost his job in September and there has been pressure on his successor Graham Potter too.

Some of the new signings have made an impact, but others have taken time to prove themselves. And ahead of this summer’s transfer window, Chelsea need to reduce their squad size.

Consequently, Chelsea have been drawing up a list of players they could cash in on. Ruthlessly, some who only arrived 12 months ago might find their time is up already.

According to a report from Diario Sport, Chelsea have not been convinced by Marc Cucurella since bringing him in from Brighton. Even the appointment of Potter, who worked with him at the Amex Stadium, hasn’t really helped.

Therefore, the Blues might want to sign a “top-level specialist” at left-back at the next available opportunity.

And Sport says one target they have identified to fill the role is Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde.

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The 19-year-old is only under contract with Barcelona until the end of next season. However, his emergence into their first team – ahead of ex-Chelsea man Marcos Alonso in the pecking order – has convinced the club to tie him down for longer.

Ideally, they want to renew his contract until 2027. From the perspective of Balde’s agent Jorge Mendes, though, that should be on a higher salary.

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Barcelona have been struggling to manage their wage bill in recent months, which may complicate things. In turn, Chelsea have established themselves as one of the “most interested clubs” keeping an eye on things.

They would not be afraid to make a significant investment in Balde. Hence, if Barcelona cannot retain his services, Chelsea will be hoping to benefit.

In addition to Cucurella, Balde could also move ahead of Ben Chilwell – who is a Manchester City target, TEAMtalk understands – in the pecking order to become Potter’s first-choice left-back.

Balde has made 33 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona this season, starting 20 La Liga matches. Prior to the current campaign, he had only played seven times for their first team before.

Thus, it really has been a breakout year for the teenager, who has already earned five caps for the senior Spanish national team.

Chelsea seemingly want to take advantage of his potential, though it remains to be seen how any negotiations with Barcelona would go.

Recent reports have indicated that Chelsea could refuse to allow Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to return to Barcelona, as he wants to, after he celebrated with the La Liga outfit following a recent win in El Clasico.

Perhaps that stance could have a detrimental affect on any other business between the two clubs. The report from Sport doesn’t seem to suggest so, though, so it may just be an isolated case.

Therefore, Chelsea will be building up their hopes of signing one of Europe’s most promising full-backs. Whether that means they will be selling either Cucurella or Chilwell, or just rotating with them, only time will tell.