Premier League • England

Chelsea eye double LaLiga raid for clinical winger and Man Utd target, but Ten Hag could have first say in January

Atletico Madrid forward Angel Correa battling Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres

Chelsea are interested in signing Villarreal pair Alex Baena and Pau Torres and both have release clauses, though one deal must go through Man Utd, per reports.

Alex Baena, 21, has burst onto the scene in emphatic fashion this season. The left winger has notched six goals in his first 10 matches across all competitions for Villarreal  this term.

What makes those statistics all the more impressive is the fact those six goals in LaLiga and the Europa Conference League have come in just 368 minutes of action.

That works out at a goal every 61 minutes and the Premier League’s big hitters have taken note.

Spanish outlet Sport reported Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea are all mulling an approach.

Now, citing reports in Spain, Sport Witness detail Chelsea’s interest in the player and reveal the Villarreal raid could become a double.

They state Baena’s continuity at Villarreal is ‘being threatened’ by the English clubs, including Chelsea.

The right-footer’s current contract doesn’t expire until 2025, though it does contain a release clause worth €35m (approx. £31m). Sport’s report echoed those sentiments regarding the release clause.

Villarreal intend to offer Baena a contract extension soon and if signed, part of the terms would include the clause either being removed or significantly raised.

It stands to reason Chelsea’s task will become harder if pen is put to paper over an extension.

Whether the Blues would target a January or summer deal isn’t stated. However, Baena isn’t the only Villarreal star in their sights.

Chelsea to make it a double?

Centre-half Pau Torres is a name frequently linked with a move to England and today is no different.

The report adds the 25-year-old Spain international has entered the final two years of his contract.

He too has a release clause – worth around £58m. However, Chelsea are reportedly content to wait until next summer before lodging their approach.

At that point, Villarreal will be forced to accept a fee far below his release clause given his contract status.

Fabrizio Romano recently revealed Torres is in high demand among England’s elite.

He noted north London pair Arsenal and Tottenham both explored a deal over the summer, as well as Chelsea.

However, Spurs opted for the more economical route when signing Clement Lenglet on loan. Arsenal’s interested stemmed from fears Gabriel Magalhaes could leave amid interest from Juventus. When the Brazilian stayed, Torres was no longer required.

Manchester United too are known admirers of the left-footed centre-back. What’s more, Chelsea’s move could be cut off at the knees by the Red Devils in January.

Today’s Euro Paper Talk revealed Erik ten Hag remains a huge fan of Torres despite already signing Lisandro Martinez in his position.

A January approach has been mooted and if that scenario unfolds, all eyes will be on whether Chelsea enter a bidding war.

Who needs Pau Torres more?

Chelsea’s defence underwent major surgery this summer. Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana all arrived, though the Blues still do not have a left-footed centre-back on their books.

Antonio Rudiger played on the left side of the three under Thomas Tuchel. Upon leaving for Real Madrid, either Koulibaly or Cucurella took his place.

Cucurella can operate at centre-back, though he’s primarily a full-back. Koulibaly, meanwhile, is right-footed.

Like Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool, Koulibaly did play on the left most frequently while with Napoli. However, that was down to the personnel he played with and the more optimal play would be having a left-footer for the left-sided role.

Whether Graham Potter sticks with Tuchel’s back five is open to debate anyway. His fluid formation in his first match in charge against RB Salzburg saw Chelsea switch between a back four and back five when in and out of possession.

Man Utd, meanwhile, committed to around £57m (including add-ons) to sign Lisandro Martinez.

The Argentine has already formed a strong partnership with Raphael Varane in the early going. What’s more, Varane is right-footed and Martinez is left – a perfect blend.

As such, Chelsea appear to be in greater need of Torres, though Ten Hag may have the final say.