It has been 50 days since Chelsea pulled out of the race to sign Manuel Ugarte from Sporting CP after Paris Saint-Germain took the initiative and ended up signing the midfielder.
At one stage, Chelsea were clear frontrunners for the Uruguay international, but PSG’s financial might proved too much for the Blues, who then ended their interest in the midfielder. When that mini ‘transfer saga’ was finished, another started – but this one has lasted even longer.
Chelsea quickly turned their attention to Moises Caicedo from Brighton, someone they were interested in signing in the January transfer window. Instead, the club ended up splashing out over £100m to sign Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, but almost six months after bringing the Argentine to England, Chelsea are back in for Caicedo.
Ever since the club turned their focus to signing Caicedo, it has proved frustrating for Chelsea. Everyone knows that Brighton are tough negotiators, but even the most pessimistic person at Chelsea would have believed that significant progress had been made at this point.
Chelsea and Brighton remain locked in talks over the possible sale of the 21-year-old, who signed a new long-term contract at the Amex Stadium earlier this year. Caicedo himself has made it absolutely clear that he wants to move to Stamford Bridge and soccer.london understands Brighton have told him he can leave if the right offer comes their way.
The Blues are expected to bid again for Caicedo eventually, although they have already seen two offers rejected by the Seagulls. There is still confidence that Chelsea will get their man, but there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix available.
READ MORE: Chelsea news and transfers LIVE: All the latest updates coming out of Stamford Bridge
Caicedo is Chelsea’s priority signing this summer. If the Blues can add the Ecuadorian to their midfield alongside the brilliant Fernandez, then there is a much better chance that Mauricio Pochettino can make this team competitive again.
Perfect Chelsea XI
Throw in an energetic midfielder like Caicedo alongside Fernandez and things look brilliant. At least on paper. Pochettino likes to play with a two-man pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as we have already seen in pre-season.
Caicedo and Fernandez – if it works – would be Chelsea’s midfield for the foreseeable future. After the sale of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic, plus N’Golo Kante leaving on a free transfer, Chelsea really lack options in the center of midfield.
There must also be focus elsewhere, and bringing in a new goalkeeper is something the club has looked at. There was initial interest in Andre Onana, but the Cameroonian shot stopper recently completed a move to Manchester United.
Mike Maignan is also someone who has been considered, soccer.london understand, but AC Milan do not want to sell the French international player. It would take a considerable sum of money, over £60m, for Milan to even consider selling the 28-year-old goalkeeper.
Chelsea have watched – and been impressed by – Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, but have yet to hold talks with the club or the player over a move. The 22-year-old Georgia international also has interest from Bayern Munich as a long-term replacement for Manuel Neuer.
There is every possibility Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal for Chelsea when the Blues take on Liverpool in their Premier League opener next month, despite the Spaniard still not convincing as No.1. As of right now, Chelsea are not moving to sign any goalkeeper despite extensive behind-the-scenes talks about signing one. soccer.london understand.
Meanwhile, an attacking midfielder is also on the agenda. As reported on Monday evening, Mohammed Kudus of Ajax is of interest to Chelsea. The Blues have already sounded out the Amsterdam-based outfit over a possible move for the 22-year-old Ghanaian, who is keen to leave the Johan Cruyff Arena this summer.
Following the departures of Mason Mounts, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz this summer, Chelsea are looking for more attacking options. Rayan Cherki, the young Lyon, is also on the club’s agenda.
Chelsea have already been in contact with the 19-year-old’s camp about a possible move this summer and the feedback they received was very positive. However, Lyon are determined to keep Cherki, but interestingly the French club did not rule out selling their prized asset if the right offer comes their way.
Any of them playing in the No.10 role in a 4-2-3-1 could unlock a new dimension to Chelsea’s attack. With the options Pochettino has right now, there might be a bit of a lack of creativity, someone to produce the magic when the game is tight.
If one of Kudus or Cherki is signed along with Caicedo and a new goalkeeper, then Chelsea will have a really serious team on their hands. Below, soccer.london have worked out what we think the ‘perfect’ Chelsea starting line-up would look like…