Rumour Has It: Chelsea line up Kounde, Rice and Tchouameni in off-season transfer splash

By Sports Desk February 14, 2022

Chelsea have been crowned European and world champions since Thomas Tuchel's appointment just over 12 months ago.

The Blues, however, finished fourth in the Premier League last season.

Chelsea are third this term but 16 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, and it seems recruitment is in the offing.

TOP STORY – BLUES SET TO SPLASH THE CASH

Chelsea are set for an off-season transfer splash as they prepare to back Tuchel fresh from their Club World Cup triumph, according to The Telegraph, 

The Blues have their sights firmly set on signing long-term target Jules Kounde from Sevilla as a priority in the upcoming off-season.

Chelsea are also interested in West Ham United's England international Declan Rice and Monaco's 22-year-old French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.


ROUND-UP

- Football London reports Arsenal are plotting a move for Chelsea forward Armando Broja, who is currently on loan at Southampton. The Gunners are short on attacking options after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's exit and with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah running down contracts.

- Fichajes also claims that Arsenal are interested in Milan forward Rafael Leao, along with Newcastle United.

Barcelona are trying to agree new deals with star young pair Gavi and Ronald Araujo amid interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, reports ESPN.

Juventus are willing to listen to offers for Adrien Rabiot and Alex Sandro according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fichajes claims that West Ham want to sign Lille defender Sven Botman, Villarreal left-back Pervis Estupinan and Real Sociedad centre-back Robin Le Normand.

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  • Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool overcompensated in absence of injured stars Virgil van Dijk admits Liverpool overcompensated in absence of injured stars

    Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits the team was probably guilty of trying too hard to compensate for the absence of a host of star players in the 4-1 victory over Luton.

    Forwards Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were the latest added to an absentee list, which had grown to 11 senior players and left manager Jurgen Klopp short of options, certainly of match-winners, as his bench comprised three defenders and four academy players.

    The likes of Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, all struggled up front in the first half, but four goals in an impressive second-half comeback after going behind in the 12th minute re-established a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

    Klopp’s side have won now 22 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

    “First half with the very first chance (for Diaz) we could have changed the game, but we were a bit rushed in the final third,” said Van Dijk.

    “Obviously the way we turned it around was credit to the boys.

    “Staying calm is the most difficult thing to do, especially in the situation where we are at; everyone wants to show themselves and play their best game ever, and you have to try to stay calm and find the right solution.

    “The first half was a bit rushed and that’s why we struggled a little bit in that sense. Being 1-0 down is never nice, but the way we bounced back is good to see.”

    Elliott, on his 100th appearance, scored the team’s 100th goal of the season with the late fourth to end his night on a high after coming in for some vociferous criticism from the crowd.

    However, Klopp – who remonstrated with a fan who appeared to target Elliott after yet another pass went astray in the first half – defended the 20-year-old.

    “Top performance. And Harvey is a top player; 100 games for Liverpool FC in not the worst period of the club’s history, where you cannot afford players who (just) play the position, that’s a proper sign,” he added.

    “He had not a great first half. There was a pass with Lucho (Diaz); I saw he wants to play the pass instead of maybe he can go in a one-on-one situation.

    “But the reaction in the second half is the main difference, that’s the thing. That made this performance the performance and I’m so happy for him.

    “I don’t lose patience in these moments, I know that it’s a challenge for young boys.

    “When everything is great, they are super talents. When things don’t go well, you have to show up. And that’s what he’s learning more and more.

    “And with 100 games under his belt, we all know he will definitely play another 100, 200, 300 – if you ask him, 500 – for this club.”

  • Football rumours: Chelsea’s Levi Colwill attracting interest from numerous clubs Football rumours: Chelsea’s Levi Colwill attracting interest from numerous clubs

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    Paris St Germain and Liverpool are both interested in England defender Levi Colwill, but Chelsea are not keen on seeing the 20-year-old leave the Blues, says the Evening Standard.

    West Ham are eyeing striker Dominic Solanke, who currently plays for Bournemouth, the Daily Telegraph writes.

    As per the Daily Telegraph, Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel is eager to return to England when he wraps up at the German club at the end of the season.

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    Marc Guehi: Manchester United could join Liverpool in the race to sign the Crystal Palace defender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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    Mason Greenwood: Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are gearing up for a showdown for the Manchester United forward, as the Red Devils appear eager to offload the striker following his loan spell at Getafe, says the Daily Mail.

  • Sir Jim Ratcliffe outlines plans for success and glamour at Manchester United Sir Jim Ratcliffe outlines plans for success and glamour at Manchester United

    Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has set out his vision for bringing some of the Eric Cantona glamour and swagger back to Old Trafford.

    The 71-year-old Ineos founder and chairman wants the club he has supported since the age of six to be seriously challenging their “noisy” north-west neighbours Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European titles within three seasons, and “knock them both off their perch”.

    In a wide-ranging briefing, Ratcliffe also:

    :: Outlined his hope to either redevelop Old Trafford at a cost of around £1billion, or build a new £2billion stadium with state support that could host England matches, FA Cup finals and Champions League finals.

    :: Admitted Dan Ashworth would be “a very good addition” to the Manchester United leadership as sporting director and said it would be “absurd” if he remained on gardening leave after his departure from Newcastle.

    :: Pledged that a fresh decision would be taken on Mason Greenwood’s future.

    :: Joked about whether Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim, his long-time rival for full control of United, even existed.

    Ratcliffe, who by the end of the year will hold a 28.9 per cent stake in United and whose Ineos company now controls football operations at Old Trafford, conducted the interview with a bust wearing a United number seven shirt stationed behind him, collar turned up in the fashion of the club’s hero of the 1990s Eric Cantona.

    “(Cantona) was the catalyst for change in Sir Alex Ferguson’s era … and then that sort of kickstarted everything off. He was the sort of talisman,” Ratcliffe said.

    “There has always been a bit of glamour attached to Manchester United which has been lacking a bit in the last few years. You’ve had George Best, Bobby Charlton, Eric the King for a while.

    “At the end of the day we are in the entertainment business. So that’s why you don’t want to watch bland football or characterless football.

    “And to be honest, since Christmas, with the young lads, they have played some fantastic football.

    “There have been some great matches. I can’t remember many matches at the beginning of the season I was really excited by but since Christmas we have played some really good football and there has been a bit of glamour attached to some of these footballers on the pitch, and we have really enjoyed it.

    “The three young lads (Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo) sitting on the hoarding at the side – that was a good picture. So I think that’s the ‘Eric’ point really. We are cognizant of the fact you do need a bit of glamour in this.”

    Ratcliffe says improving the club’s record on recruitment is “top of the list” of things to get right, and publicly stated his club’s interest in Dan Ashworth, who has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after expressing his desire to leave the Tyneside club.

    “I think it’d be a very good addition to Manchester United, but he (Ashworth) needs to decide whether he’s going to make that jump,” Ratcliffe said.

    “We’ve obviously had words with Newcastle. They clearly would be disappointed to lose Dan. I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan but but then you can’t equally criticise Dan because it is a transient industry.

    “So we’ll have to see how it unfolds.”

    Ratcliffe said it would be “a bit silly” if it took £20million to secure Ashworth’s services, and added: “What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting that a man who’s really good at his job, sits in his garden for one and a half years.”

    Also key to the transformation as Ratcliffe sees it is a redeveloped Old Trafford or a new stadium built partially with state support.

    Ratcliffe said a taskforce would be set up to look at the feasibility of the latter option and agreed former Manchester United defender Gary Neville would be an “obvious” person to include on it.

    Ratcliffe sees no issue with one of the world’s richest clubs in United seeking state support for such a project.

    “The people in the north pay their taxes like the people in the south pay their taxes,” he said.

    “But where’s the national stadium for football? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for rugby? It’s in the south. Where’s the national stadium for tennis? It’s in the south. Where’s the national concert stadium? It’s the O2, it’s in the south. Where’s the Olympic Village? It’s in the south.

    “All of this talk about levelling up and the Northern Powerhouse… where is the stadium in the north? How many Champions Leagues has the north-west won and how many Champions Leagues has London won? The answer to that is the north-west has won 10 – Liverpool have won more than us – and London has won two.

    “Where do you have to go if you get to the semi-final of the FA Cup and you’re a northern club? You have to schlep down to London, don’t you?

    “People in the north pay their taxes and there is an argument that you could think about a more ambitious project in the north which would be fitting for England, for the Champions League final or the FA Cup final and act as a catalyst to regenerate southern Manchester, which has got quite significant history in the UK.”

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