Chelsea are monitoring developments around Frenkie de Jong and could target the Barcelona midfielder if his move to Manchester United breaks down.
United have agreed a fee of €65m (£56.2m) plus add-ons for De Jong and negotiations are now centred around the player’s personal terms. It is understood that the Netherlands international is open to moving to Old Trafford despite previously stating that he is in no rush to leave Barcelona, who need to raise money for signings through sales.
However De Jong is keen to play in the Champions League, which is not currently on offer at United. Chelsea, who remain in talks with Manchester City over Raheem Sterling and are waiting to see whether Leeds United’s Raphinha will snub them for Barcelona, are watching the situation and could move in if the deal falls apart.
Chelsea watched De Jong closely before he left Ajax for Barcelona in 2019 and Thomas Tuchel, the head coach, admires the 25-year-old. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea plan to follow up on their interest, though a deal for De Jong could prove more straightforward than attempting to buy West Ham’s Declan Rice.
Chelsea’s main priority is strengthening in defence and attack but there is also uncertainty over their central midfield options. Tuchel broadly picked from Jorginho, N’Golo Kanté, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saúl Ñíguez last season. Saúl has returned to Atlético Madrid after his unsuccessful loan, and Jorginho and Kanté are out of contract next summer.
With Tuchel intending to use Conor Gallagher after the England international’s impressive loan at Crystal Palace, another addition in midfield could see Chelsea try to cash in on Jorginho or Kanté. Jorginho could return to Serie A, with Juventus a possible destination for the Italy midfielder. United have shown interest in Kanté and on Friday were waiting for the left-back Tyrell Malacia to sign his contract to join from Feyenoord after agreeing personal terms.
Chelsea are in talks with Juve over a big-money deal for the Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt. There is no agreement over a fee for De Ligt, who is unlikely to extend his contract, but Chelsea are willing to include Timo Werner or Christian Pulisic in any deal.
Tuchel must strengthen in defence after the departures of Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen. Chelsea are making progress in talks with City over signing Nathan Aké, who could cost about £45m, and are back in negotiations with Sevilla over Jules Koundé.
Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-owner, is leading negotiations over potential signings and is determined to back Tuchel. Chelsea plan to strengthen their attack by signing Sterling, who could cost £50m, and have agreed a fee of £55m plus add-ons with Leeds for Raphinha.
However there is no agreement for Sterling with City yet and there are concerns that Raphinha could hold out for Barcelona to reach Leeds’s asking price. Barcelona’s financial problems have stopped them from making an offer from the Brazilian, but they could now have the funds to bid.
Chelsea have offered Raphinha a five-year deal worth £115,000 a week. If they miss out on the 25-year-old they could switch focus to Ousmane Dembélé, who is out of contract at Barcelona.