Chelsea: Mahrez latest; midfielder set to stay; update in search for defender
In an unexpected twist, a move for Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez could be back on, despite the Algerian having signed a new deal recently. Italian Twitter user AllessandroLDN tweeted pictures, shown in the Sun, of the PFA Player of the Year, checking into the official team hotel of the club at the same time as Antonio Conte was ta the hotel, leading to speculation that the two could have been meeting for talks.
The unexpected development could, of course, be a mere coincidence, but the rising star was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal and Chelsea earlier this summer before he kicked off his season with defeat to Manchester United in the Community Shield game at Wembley on Sunday. Mahrez would be a quality addition for Conte and would undoubtedly be the kind of marquee signing that Roman Abramovich is a fan of, but it’s hard to see it being an easy deal to pull off.
Reports in the Express claim that Nemanja Matic will not be Juventus’ replacement for Paul Pogba after Antonio Conte has refused to allow the Serbian to depart Stamford Bridge, even if the Italian club meet the £25 million asking price previously put on the midfielder by club bosses.
Conte is believed to see Matic as a key part of his plans as he plans to fit him into midfield alongside new acquisition N’Golo Kante. Matic struggled for form last season and failed to impress a large proportion of the Chelsea fan base, but the Italian manager is now ready to give him another chance in the blue of the club to show the form he showed previously after first re-signing for the club.
The Evening Standard claim that a deal for Kalidou Koulibaly continues to be held up by Napoli’s reluctance to allow their star Senegalese defender to leave despite his desire to do so. Having stated that he wants to leave the Italian club, Napoli have made a new contract offer to Koulibaly and are currently not responding to Chelsea’s approaches for the strong centre half.
Koulibaly has been Antonio Conte’s top target throughout the summer in terms of defensive additions and Roman Abramovich and co will be reluctant to fail in the pursuit of their man. Whilst there are other targets lined up, Koulibaly brings the strength and aerial presence required to substitute for John Terry as the club captain ages and plays less and less of a role in the first team.
In the case that a move for Koulibaly should fall apart, the Standard say that the club are preparing an offer for Victor Lindelof of Benfica as a back-up option so that they are forced into another season without defensive reinforcements when the transfer window slams shut in three weeks time.
Whilst the Blues are reluctant to pay his £25 million release clause to sign the Dane from his Portuguese club, they are willing to negotiate for the central defender who can also provide cover at right back. Not first choice, negotiations for Lindelof may be delayed but they will have to start soon if the Londoners are hoping to bring him in before the window shuts in August as Conte seeks additions.
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