Premier League • England

Chelsea set colossal fee to sign successor to Blues great who Man Utd and Newcastle both missed out on

Ecuador and Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo

A Premier League star who looks an ideal successor to N’Golo Kante will cost Chelsea an eye-watering new fee, and a report reckons both Man Utd and Newcastle could have a say after missing out in 2020.

N’Golo Kante can stake a realistic claim to being the world’s greatest holding midfielder over the last decade. He anchored Leicester City’s midfield in their miracle title win before earning a £32m move to Chelsea in 2016. That transfer fee could’ve been multiplied by five and he’d still have proved value for money at Stamford Bridge.

Kante has helped the Blues lift the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup during his seven-year stint at the club. His heroic displays in the knockout rounds of their successful UCL campaign of 2020-21 will live long in the memory.

However, injuries have begun to bite as the years have worn on and now 31, there’s growing concern his time may be up.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano recently reported that while Kante would love to stay, the chances of him leaving for free next summer are increasing.

Kante is out of contract in 2023 and a two-year deal with an option for a third has already been rejected. Chelsea are understood to harbour concerns over his injury record and do not want to commit to any more length in the deal.

“The only way for Kante to stay at Chelsea is if Graham Potter will decide to keep him,” Romano said via his YouTube channel. “But, as of now, the financial agreement is not in place between Chelsea and Kante.

“An important point to mention is N’Golo Kante would love to stay at Chelsea. He loves London, he loves the club, he loves the fans. He has a great relationship with all his teammates. So Kante would love to stay at the club.

“But the reality is that at the moment, there is still no agreement between the two parties.

“And this is why the expectation of those close to the player’s side and the club’s side is for N’Golo Kante to leave on a free. Big opportunity for many clubs.”

Kante replacement already in EPL?

If Kante does move on, a perfect replacement may already be in the Premier League.

Brighton’s Moises Caicedo has caught the eye this season with a series of tough tackling and no-nonsense displays.

Caicedo earned a place in Ecuador’s starting eleven in Qatar and looked at home on the big stage. As such, the Sun report that Chelsea as well as Man Utd and Newcastle are all mulling a move.

Should any of the English heavyweights act on their interest, Brighton have slapped a whopping £60m-£70m price tag on the 21-year-old.

Caicedo has also been linked with Liverpool in the past, though are not mentioned by the Sun.

Man Utd, Newcastle paying penalty for past miss

The report adds both the Red Devils and Magpies had near misses when it came to signing Caicedo in the past.

Man Utd and Newcastle tried their luck in 2020 while Caicedo was still with Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle.

Both were in direct contact with Caicedo’s club but Brighton had already stolen a march on the pair. The Seagulls produced a more compelling sales pitch and Caicedo was suitably impressed by the lengths they went to despite the fact he was a relative unknown at the time.

Brighton ultimately secured a coup worth a bargain £3.6m, and could generate a return of around 18 times that amount if selling in 2023.

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