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Chelsea: Club legend to return; left-back considered; new signing imminent

Calm down Chelsea fans, but your dreams could be about to come true, as the Express report that Michael Essien is training with the club, and could be offered a contract by Antonio Conte. The Ghanian was at Stamford Bridge for Monday’s victory over West Ham and is currently training with the team to regain fitness levels. These reports suggest that should he impress, Conte may consider a move for the 33-year-old who is currently without a club to add cover for N’Golo Kante in midfield.
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Having played for AC Milan and Panathinaikos since departing London for the second time, Essien has made just 37 first team appearances across two and a half seasons since his departure from Chelsea, where he was once almost ever as the Blues walked from title to title under Jose Mourinho and others. It seems unlikely that Essien will sign, and far more likely that he is just regaining fitness with the team in order to win a contract elsewhere, but this one is enough to excite Chelsea fans and keep their dreams alive, although only for sentimental with the holding midfielder not able to add much to Conte’s squad.

Somebody who could offer a lot to Conte would be Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg, who the Mirror claim may be subject to a £22 million bid as Conte looks to add depth at left back after Baba Rahman’s loan departure to Schalke. The Swiss international is believed to have told club bosses that he wants to leave Wolfsburg this summer, and Arsenal, Roma and Real Madrid are among the many clubs to have been linked with the 23-year-old.

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As quite an attacking minded full-back who is often amongst the goals and can also play a role further forward as a left winger, it may come as a surprise that Conte is keen on him. The Italian usually favours defensive solidity over attacking prowess in full-backs, but Rodriguez may be able to offer the perfect combination of the two. At £22 million, he would be a bargain given some fees we have seen this summer, but with the likes of Arsenal linked and Real Madrid long term suitors, the Blues are likely to have to increase their offer if they are to tempt Wolfsburg into accepting a bid.

The Sun also report that a deal is imminent to see Spanish goalkeeper Diego Lopez join the Blues from AC Milan. The former Real Madrid stopper has fallen out of favour in Italy, and with Asmir Begovic demanding first team football, Lopez will step in to become second choice and allow Begovic to leave Stamford Bridge.

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Conte is a fan of Lopez, reportedly as much for his impact on the dressing room, where he is expected to be a big character and being vast experience, as for his footballing talents. Having spent most of his career as first choice at Champions League level clubs like Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal, Lopez is expected to compete with Courtois, though given he only made nine first team appearances for Milan last season, it seems he is unlikely to displace the Belgian.

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