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Chelsea reportedly had a substantial bid for Juventus centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain turned down. The Blues could also miss out on mooted target Andrea Belotti, with the Torino striker expected to join AC Milan in a deal possibly worth €100 million, per reports from Italy.
Premier League champions Chelsea made a bid worth £87.5 million for Higuain, according to Italian publication Tuttosport (h/t Joe Short of the Daily Express). The offer was rejected after the Blues initially approached Juventus director Beppe Marotta about a deal, per the reports.
The reports revealed Juve refused to sell their prolific No. 9, despite the hefty offer: “Marotta is said to have told the official that Chelsea cannot afford Higuain, before being informed they are willing to spend up to €100m (£87.5m) to secure a deal. Still, Marotta doesn’t want to sell either Higuain or the Argentine’s strike partner Paulo Dybala.”
It makes sense for the Bianconeri to want to keep Higuain after the way the Argentinian tormented defences, both in Serie A and the UEFA Champions League, last season. He scored 32 times in all competitions, per WhoScored.com.
Thanks to his power, subtle quickness and quality as a finisher, Higuain would certainly fit at Chelsea and make an impact in England’s top flight. However, Juve’s stance instead leaves the Blues still looking for a new striker.
The Daily Mirror‘s John Cross said the search would end with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whom Chelsea are reportedly planning to spend £65 million to sign.
Cross pointed out how Chelsea have been left frustrated by missing out on both Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku. He also revealed the Blues still plan to sell Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid.
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Missing out on other targets means Chelsea must focus elsewhere, yet it may not mean Belotti makes his way to Stamford Bridge. The 23-year-old Italy international is “open to move to the San Siro,” per CalcioMercato’s Fabrizio Romano (h/t Calciomercato.com).
Belotti has a release clause worth €100 million in his contract, and Torino are determined to get full value for the player, despite Milan offering players and cash, per the reports: “AC Milan have offered €40 million plus Torino targets Gabriel Paletta and M’Baye Niang. Torino are interested in signing the AC Milan pair but the rossoneri cash offer for Belotti is still too low.”
Both Chelsea and the Rossoneri received an apparent “boost” in any bids to sign Belotti after he was left out of the photo launch for Torino’s new kit launch, per Geoff Sweet of The Sun. Sweet also revealed how the Blues “have been unwilling to meet” the player’s price tag.
The reluctance over the price is understandable, although a report from Metro says Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is “thought to favour” Belotti ahead of Aubameyang and Morata.
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Chelsea may be struggling to find a new striker, but the players they are linked with prove what kind of frontman Conte is seeking.
He wants a classic centre-forward, one who is a finisher first but also capable of playing with his back to goal, holding the ball up and linking well with Eden Hazard and Pedro in the 3-4-2-1 formation the Blues used so effectively last season.