With Antonio Conte still in France in his role as manager of his native Italy, Chelsea’s transfer activity is still waiting to click into gear. However, the papers clearly believe that plans are afoot to make improvements to Conte’s new squad.
Alvaro Morata and Karim Benzema
The biggest rumour currently doing the rounds is that we are heading the lengthy queue for Alvaro Morata, the Spanish forward. The 23-year-old has just re-joined Real Madrid from Juventus for a fee of around £24m. They activated a buy-back clause in the deal which saw Morata leave for Italy two years ago. However, with Karim Benzema firmly ensconced as their first-choice striker, Real are expected to start an auction for Morata, and move him as soon as possible. Spurs and Arsenal are also said to be interested in the current joint top scorer at Euro 2016, and the fee is expected to exceed £30m.
Another striker being linked to the Bridge is Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian left us for Everton two years ago, but now wants to play in the Champions League. Chelsea are known to be tracking him, but Everton’s insistence that he is worth at least £65m appears to be putting off potential suitors. What’s more, Farhad Moshiri, the Merseyside club’s new owner, is injecting considerable funds into the club, and there are suggestions that Lukaku could be persuaded to sign a new, big money deal.
One striker who definitely won’t be signing for Conte is Antoine Griezmann. The 25-year-old is currently playing for France at Euro 2016, but has found time to sign a new five-year deal at the Vicente Calderon.
Kalidou Koulibaly, the Napoli centre-half, is another player who is rumoured to have peaked Conte’s interest. The Daily Mirror reported that Chelsea had a £19.2m offer rejected for the Senegal international. They say that Napoli are holding out for closer to £30m, and that PSG and Arsenal are also keen.
Two current Chelsea players are currently making headlines as rumours circulate regarding their potential departures. Cesar Azpilicueta, in particular, looks like he may be heading for the exit. The Guardian reported that PSG, Athletic Bilbao and Manchester United – managed by none other than Jose Mourinho, of course – are keen on the versatile Spanish full-back. The Sun believe that he is also on Barcelona’s shortlist to replace Juventus-bound Dani Alves. There are plenty of suggestions that Antonio Conte is willing to let Azpilicueta go for a surprisingly low fee, believed to be close to the £12m mark.
Finally, there is better news in regard to Willian. A number of sources, including The Sun, have reported that he is set to turn-down Mourinho’s overtures and sign a much improved four-year deal at the Bridge – richly deserved after his superb form last season.
Contribution from Joe Shread