Argentine wants Chelsea move as Sarri tables £26.8m bid

Chelsea are stepping up their transfer efforts to sign the Argentina midfielder they have identified as Maurizio Sarri’s No 1 choice to replace Cesc Fabregas.

Leandro Paredes has emerged as the Blues’ No 1 target to fill in for experienced Spanish midfielder Fabregas, who last week completed a £10m switch to France with Monaco.

Sarri has £57m summer signing Jorginho, Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic, World Cup semi-finalist Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante as his options in the middle – but replacing Fabregas has become one of the club’s main aims this month – as has bringing in a new striker.

The Blues have been linked with Liverpool and Barcelona target Adrien Rabiot, but it seems Parades is their No 1 target after it was reported that Chelsea had launched a £26.8m bid to snare him from his Russian side Zenit St Petersburg.

Zenit paid £24m plus add-ons to Roma for Paredes in 2017, but it’s reported the 24-year-old has had his head turned by Chelsea’s interest and is keen to make the move.

And Sarri admitted Chelsea’s midfield failings after Saturday evening’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Newcastle, saying: “Today Jorginho was in trouble and on the bench there wasn’t a player for that position. I need an option for Jorginho.

“After the goal I think we thought ‘now it’s easy’, but it wasn’t.

“We slept for 20, 25 minutes, so at the end of the first half we were in trouble. We need to improve in the mental reaction.”

Paredes has emerged as a like-for-like replacement for Fabregas as illustrated by his 87.5% pass accuracy rate in the Russian Premier League this season. The player also has two assists.



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