Leicester City

Leicester City

Premier League • England

Wesley Fofana: Chelsea net big win on two fronts as Leicester fears prompt their stance to finally soften

Leicester centre-back Wesley Fofana

Leicester have finally relented in their quest to retain Wesley Fofana, with one journalist claiming Chelsea can complete the move without having to do what they feared most.

The Blues have already bid twice for the 21-year-old Foxes centre-back. Offers of £60m and £65m were both flatly rejected by Leicester. However, that was never likely to be the end of the story.

Indeed, a third bid of £72m plus £10m in add-ons was speculated to be in the pipeline. Leicester had always insisted their star man wasn’t for sale, though the first sign of that stance cracking emerged at the weekend.

Fofana was left out of Leicester’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton on Saturday. Manager Brendan Rodgers explained the omission through Fofana not being in the right “frame of mind” to pull on a Leicester jersey.

Fabrizio Romano recently tweeted Fofana has already agreed personal terms with Chelsea. If the two clubs find common ground over the fee, the Frenchman will sign a five-year deal running to 2027 and a salary of £200,000-a-week has been speculated.

Leicester value Fofana around the £85m mark – a figure that would set a new world record for a defender.

The current mark stands at the £80m Manchester United paid for Harry Maguire in 2019, coincidentally also involving Leicester.

Chelsea were reported to be reluctant to break the record through fear of the extra pressure the honour would bring.

Indeed, Maguire has struggled under the weight and expectation of being the world’s most expensive defender at Old Trafford. Common sense would dictate Chelsea do all they can to avoid labouring the 21-year-old Fofana with that pressure.

The Guardian reported Chelsea would eventually go beyond £80m if they had to. But according to CBS Sports’ Ben Jacobs, that may no longer be required.

Leicester fears, Rodgers meetings prompt stance shift

Firstly, Jacobs tweeted Leicester are now ‘prepared to sell Wesley Fofana’. That stance change has come about through a series of meetings between the player and Brendan Rodgers.

Leicester reportedly fear Fofana may remain ‘distracted’ beyond the window if he doesn’t get his ‘dream’ move to Stamford Bridge. As a result, they’re finally prepared to sever ties.

A third Chelsea bid is ‘coming’, though there’s reportedly a belief a figure slightly below £80m will be enough.

Leicester will demand the bulk of the fee up front in that scenario to ensure they’re not caught short. If they do sell Fofana, they’ll re-invest some of the money in a direct replacement.

Jacobs noted Chelsea are sizing up alternatives just in case the Foxes deal collapses. The Daily Mail recently reported Brighton’s Adam Webster is one such target on their radar.

However, all the signs now point to Webster not being needed with a path to signing Fofana finally opening up.

How will Fofana fit in at Chelsea?

If the 21-year-old does sign for the Blues, Thomas Tuchel’s defensive revamp may be all but complete.

The German lost Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger to free agency. There had been talk of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso moving to Barcelona too, though the former has signed a new contract and interest in the latter is cooling with Barcelona still yet to register Jules Kounde.

As such, Tuchel’s likely back five would be Reece James at right wing-back and Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly flanking Thiago Silva in the middle.

Marc Cucurella will compete with Ben Chilwell for the left wing-back role, though the Spaniard can also play at left centre-back when required.

When asked about the left-sided pair on Friday, Tuchel said: “I would say if we play a back four they are competing for the same place.

“If we play a back five, not 100 percent. Ben is a clear wing-back and Marc is both. He can play in the back three and as a wing-back.”

Tuchel will then have converted wing-back Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Azpilicueta and potentially Alonso in reserve. The versatile Ethan Ampadu was also on the bench for the 3-0 defeat to Leeds.

Trevoh Chalobah is expected to leave on loan, while a West Ham bid totalling £15m for Emerson Palmieri has been accepted.