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Chelsea are reportedly ready to make bids for two key transfer targets, AS Monaco holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and Juventus left-back Alex Sandro.
The Blues will offer more than £40 million for Bakayoko in a bid to convince Monaco to sell, per Dominic Fifield of the Guardian. Fifield detailed how Chelsea have been on the case for Bakayoko for a while, but he also said signing him wouldn’t necessarily ensure a shake-up of midfield: “Chelsea’s long-standing interest in Bakayoko is also likely to come to fruition, with the France international set to join for a fee in excess of £40m after a fine season at the heart of Monaco’s Ligue 1 title-winning midfield. His arrival would not necessarily see Nemanja Matic depart the club.”
It’s interesting Fifield should say Matic wouldn’t leave Stamford Bridge if Bakayoko arrives. After all, both players operate as defensive midfielders, with Bakayoko a natural fit alongside fellow France international N’Golo Kante.
It’s hard to believe Matic would settle for a role on the bench after starting 30 games in the Premier League to help Chelsea win the title last season, per WhoScored.com. In fact, Matic has already been heavily linked with a move to domestic rivals Manchester United, where he would reunite with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, per the Manchester Evening News (h/t James Walters of the Daily Star).
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If Matic is going to stay at Chelsea, it’s difficult to know where Bakayoko will fit, meaning a fee of over £40 million will be too much for a squad player.
New Offer Expected for Juve Defender
Bakayoko isn’t the only player in the sights of manager Antonio Conte. The Italian also wants to sign Sandro and is ready to make an improved offer.
However, there is some confusion about exactly how much the Blues will bid for the Brazilian full-back. Fifield reports it will be an “improved bid worth up to £55m.” Yet Tony Banks of the Sunday Express thinks the new offer will total £60 million.
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Juve have already rejected a bid worth £55.2 million from Chelsea, according to Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail. Barlow did note how the Bianconeri won’t prevent Sandro from heading for the exit if he is determined to leave Turin this summer.
While undoubtedly a terrific left-sided player, Sandro would find fierce competition waiting for him if he joined Chelsea. Specifically, Spaniard Marcos Alonso would surely block the South American’s path to the starting XI after a superb 2016/17 campaign.
Even so, the Chelsea board will push ahead with the moves Conte wants to appease a manager who had expected decisive activity earlier in the market, per Fifield: “Yet Chelsea, who have made it clear to Conte that their established strategy in the market will not shift, are confident any tension can be allayed well before players and staff return to Cobham for pre-season training in the first week of July, with significant signings expected to be secured by then.”
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Conte wants a bigger squad, which perhaps explains why he would be targeting big-money moves for players who would be added to positions of strength in Chelsea’s team.
The Blues will be playing UEFA Champions League football next season, so will need extra bodies. However, Conte may find it tough to keep key starters from last season, such as Matic and Alonso, content with reduced roles.