Premier League • England

Chelsea cast aside former Arsenal star from shortlist, with deal now expected for favoured target

France forwards Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele 2021

Chelsea appear to be putting all their eggs in one basket by electing to pursue Ousmane Dembele instead of Serge Gnabry, according to reports.

Dembele has been heavily linked with Chelsea in recent weeks. His contract with Barcelona is due to expire in the summer. Consequently, his current employers tried to sell him in January, when Chelsea were interested.

The Blues are still in contact with the winger’s representatives ahead of a possible summer deal. Chelsea are reportedly rivalling Paris Saint-Germain to sign Dembele as a free agent.

Such a move would reunite him with his former Borussia Dortmund coach, Thomas Tuchel. It would also replenish the attacking ranks for Chelsea, who could move on a number of options there.

But Dembele has not been the only player to consider when it comes to their attacking regeneration. Reports recently tipped them to make a move for Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry.

The former Arsenal misfit has revived his career in Germany and is now very much in demand. Gnabry has been linked with a return to north London to join Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

But Chelsea could have given him a platform elsewhere in the English capital, as Bild recently revealed.

However, Sport insist that Chelsea are going all out for Dembele and have cast Gnabry aside from their list of potential targets.

Chelsea lead race against Barcelona for Leeds winger Raphinha this summer

Chelsea lead race against Barcelona for Leeds winger Raphinha this summer

Chelsea lead the race for Raphinha from Leeds United with Barcelona falling short

Signing the German would cost too much, according to the report. In contrast, they can pick up Dembele without a transfer cost.

That means they can convince him with a high salary and signing-on bonus. They are already in negotiations with his entourage over what they feel is the most cost-effective option.

Chelsea expected to beat competition for Dembele

The report reveals Manchester United and Juventus are the two other clubs capable of competing for Dembele. Another of his January suitors, Tottenham, have pulled out of the race.

Juventus were believed to be in the best position to accommodate Dembele, who wants to be at the centre of the next project he becomes part of. But Sport now predict Chelsea can convince the Frenchman otherwise.

Ousmane Dembele, Barcelona winger during LaLIga match v Elche

Barcelona, for their part, are not expected to make any further attempt to renew Dembele’s contract. Therefore, the 2018 World Cup winner will be free to pick his next club at the end of the season.

Sport believe there is even a chance that Dembele has already reached an agreement with his next takers. In Barcelona, they believe that will indeed be Chelsea.

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Barcelona have chance to take Chelsea stars

While they could lose Dembele to the Blues, Barcelona are looking at a couple of Chelsea players due to become free agents themselves.

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Denmark international Andreas Christensen is locked in talks with Barcelona and Bayern Munich ahead of his release by Chelsea.

In fact, Barcelona would like to land both Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta in a double free agent swoop. Their ongoing financial strife makes free agent acquisitions more appealing than ever at the Camp Nou.

Chelsea harbour hopes of tying Christensen down to fresh terms. However, talks have repeatedly failed to progress after the Telegraph revealed Chelsea twice saw deals they believed were close to being signed turned down.

Now, Romano has provided the latest on the ongoing situation, and Chelsea can rest assured Christensen won’t be lining up against them next season – at least in the Premier League.

Romano tweeted the centre-back ‘won’t consider’ any offers from fellow English sides out of ‘respect’ to Chelsea.

That will be music to the ears of Bayern and Barca, who Romano reports are both ‘still in talks’.

The journalist confirmed Barcelona have approached Azpilicueta too. Though at present, both he and Christensen’s futures remain up in the air.

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