Premier League • England

Senior star turns back on Chelsea with damaging Barcelona switch ‘advanced’

Chelsea pair Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante

One of Graham Potter’s most influential Chelsea stars is ‘in a hurry’ to forge a January agreement with Barcelona, and his camp have another club in mind if Xavi pulls the plug, per a report.

Despite being Europe’s biggest spenders last summer, the Blues look certain to continue splashing the cash in 2023. Indeed, a move for RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku has been signed off with the Frenchman due to arrive in the summer.

Fabrizio Romano also reported Molde hitman, David Datro Fofana, will make the journey to Stamford Bridge in January.

Chelsea have struck an agreement worth around £8.6m to sign the 19-year-old Ivory Coast international. All that remains is for Fofana to agree personal terms.

Croatia stand-out, Josko Gvardiol, is also in Chelsea’s sights. Gianluca Di Marzio reported the Blues will try their luck in January, while Sky Sports detailed which Bundesliga star is their plan B.

In any case, today’s update centres around the midfield, and it pertains to an exit, not an arrival.

Few players have been as influential in the Premier League over the last half decade as N’Golo Kante.

The French destroyer, 31, is a one-man wrecking ball in the engine room and is an opposing attacker’s worst nightmare.

Kante has begun to struggle with injury of late. Indeed, he’s been limited to just two league appearances this season and topped out at 26 last year.

Those injury concerns as well as his advancing age are understood to be causing hesitation with regards to a Chelsea extension. The Athletic previously stated Kante has asked for a three-year deal with an option for a fourth. The best the Blues have come up with is two years with an option for a third.

Kante’s current deal expires next summer and come January 1, he’ll be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs.

Now, Spanish publication AS report Barcelona are primed and ready to make their move for the Blues icon and claim a deal is already ‘advanced’.

Kante ‘in a hurry’ to seal Barcelona agreement

Barca are searching for a replacement for Sergio Busquets who’ll leave for free at season’s end. The delicate nature of their finances mean free agents-to-be are the order of the day.

Kante, fellow Chelsea star Jorginho, and Leicester’s Youri Tielemans are the three primary options under consideration. Of the trio, Barcelona’s hierarchy have settled on Kante.

Barca chief, Matheu Alemany, is reportedly personally leading the negotiations with Kante and his camp. The conversations have ‘flowed correctly’, and it’s even claimed Kante is in a hurry to secure his future.

Kante ‘wants to sign’ for the Catalonians and is apparently ‘pressing’ Barcelona to wrap up a pre-agreement for January. The nature of the article’s reporting suggests Kante has determined once and for all his future lays away from Stamford Bridge.

Barca boss Xavi is said to prefer a younger option, such as Ruben Neves or Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi. However, both those players will cost transfer fees and that’s a route the club’s decision-makers are keen to avoid.

Kante’s back-up club revealed

A final decision on Kante is yet to be made, though it’s again stressed negotiations are progressing. In the event Kante’s move to the Camp Nou breaks down, his camp will reportedly explore a move to Juventus.

Juve are expected to sell Weston McKennie and lose Adrien Rabiot to free agency in 2023. Kante would be an ideal signing and could re-establish his French midfield pairing with Paul Pogba if signed.

While many may argue Kante’s best days are behind him, he would leave a big hole to fill in Chelsea’s midfield.

Jorginho may wind up leaving on a free too, meaning Chelsea will be forced into spending big once again next summer.

That could detract from other areas of their squad that also require attention, such as centre-forward and left centre-back.

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