Chelsea are ready to compete with former manager Jose Mourinho as they attempt to sign Benfica defender Victor Lindelof, according to the Mirror. Antonio Conte has made the Swedish international a priority target as he looks to strengthen his options at centre-back. Manchester United had been seen as the most likely destination for the defender, but the interest from Chelsea will certainly pique his interest. A possible deal could be worth as much as £38 million, while Benfica may use the interest from several clubs to increase the fee.
The Swedish international is the complete package and he will only improve if he does get the opportunity to work under Antonio Conte. He is dominant in the air, possesses good acceleration and is able to carry the ball out of the back four. Chelsea have been excellent defensively since they changed to a 3-4-3 formation, but there are doubts about Gary Cahill’s ability to perform the role in the long term. Lindelof would be a great signing and one that has the potential to develop into a quality centre-half. It won’t be an easy deal to do, but Chelsea are an attractive club under Conte and they will be confident of securing Lindelof’s signature ahead of Manchester United.
One player that could be leaving the club this month is Asmir Begovic, with Bournemouth ready to bring him to the South Coast. However, the Guardian report that his departure hinges on Chelsea managing to find a replacement backup goalkeeper. The club are ready to let Begovic leave as they understand his desire to feature regularly, but they can’t afford to do so unless they find a suitable replacement. The report goes on to mention Diego Lopez and Tim Krul as possible targets.
Neither player is featuring regularly for their current clubs and could be ready to move to Stamford Bridge as back up to Thibaut Courtois. They offer different qualities, as Lopez has experience at the highest level with Real Madrid, but Krul is used to the Premier League. This shows the forward planning of Chelsea and the importance of having a well-balanced squad. Although they have Eduardo as the third choice goalkeeper at the club, it would be a risk to enter the second half of the season with only two goalkeepers. They would be one Courtois injury away from jeopardising their title challenge and the club can’t afford to do that.
The Chelsea number one has been talking to Sky Sports and has stated that he is happy at Stamford Bridge, ruling out an exit anytime soon. He has returned to his best this season, already keeping 13 Premier League clean sheets. Last season, Courtois received two red cards and there were some doubting whether he was happy at the club, but he has been excellent this season and has kept Chelsea in matches with some superb saves.
“I have never felt so good since I arrived in Chelsea,”
“On the field, I am good, I make the decisive stops when it is necessary.”
This will be reassuring for Chelsea fans to hear as he has taken his game to the next level under Antonio Conte and beginning to fill Petr Cech’s massive shoes at the club. It was always going to be difficult for the Belgian to replace the Chelsea legend, but there was always faith in him inside the club and his loan spells with Atletico highlighted his potential. At the age of 24, there is plenty of time for Courtois to develop and he has the potential to become the best goalkeeper in the world.
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