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Chelsea round-up: Conte deal close; Young centre back set for exit; Premier League pair targeted

Chelsea

Chelsea round-up: Conte deal close; Young centre back set for exit; Premier League pair targeted

Chelsea are confident manager Antonio Conte will sign a new contract as he prepares for talks with Roman Abramovich.

The Telegraph are reporting that progress has been made in negotiations between the manager and the board and even though the manager will not be given the level of control he wanted, he will not quit the club.

Abramovich offered him a contract of £9.6 million per year after last season’s title triumph, but concerns over control of transfers and club matters in general led to reports in Italy that Conte was prepared to quit.

But fans will be relieved now it seems likely Conte will stay to spearhead their Champions League campaign.

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The former Juventus manager is likely to be given around £200 million to spend in the transfer market this summer and has identified either Leonardo Bonucci or Virgil van Dijk as his primary defensive targets, according to the Evening Standard.

But any move is likely to see Kurt Zouma loaned out to make room for the new signing.

Zouma spent a year out injured after a knee ligament injury he suffered in February 2016 and the signing of either Bonucci or van Dijk would see his playing time limited, something Chelsea do not want.

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Competition will be even tougher in the heart of the Blues defence next season with Andreas Christensen returning from Borussia Moenchengladbach a much improved player.

But Liverpool showed it will not be easy to prise van Dijk away from Southampton this summer, whereas Chelsea tried and failed to sign Bonucci last summer. It will take some effort for these deals to go through.

Finally, the Blues are also reportedly interested in signing Ross Barkley and Riyad Mahrez, as reported in the Telegraph.

Barkley had several problems with Ronald Koeman at Everton, not least with plans to sign a new contract and he has been linked with an exit from Goodison Park this summer.

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At 23 years of age, he is still considered one of the brightest talents in England but is in danger of failing to fulfill it if his exile at Everton continues. A move to Chelsea would take him out of the starting 11, but he could see him develop greatly as he pushes for a starting place.

As for Mahrez, he had a poor season at Leicester last term, after helping them to a surprise title triumph in 2015/16.

He has long been linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium, with Arsenal big fans – as reported by the Telegraph – but news Chelsea are interested will throw a spanner in the works.

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