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Chelsea already laying groundwork to sign marquee ‘force of nature’ as optimism grows this week

Chelsea have ‘already started laying down some groundwork’ to sign West Ham captain Declan Rice this summer, according to reports.

THE LOWDOWN: RICE ATTRACTING CHELSEA’S INTEREST…

The England international has been attracting interest from Premier League leaders Arsenal alongside the Blues as both clubs aim to further enhance their midfield options.

Despite the marquee signing of Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez last week, the west Londoners and owner Todd Boehly are thought to be targeting Rice heading into this summer.

The 24-year-old has been in brilliant form for an under-performing West Ham side, and with his contract slowly running down towards its June 2024 expiry, it’s entirely possible that he could be on the move this year.

THE LATEST: CHELSEA HAVE ‘ALREADY STARTED’ LAYING RICE GROUNDWORK…

According to journalist Simon Phillips, writing for GiveMeSport, Chelsea have ‘already started laying down some groundwork’ to sign Rice ahead of a proposed summer move.

While there will be ‘serious competition’ from London rivals Arsenal, Phillips has also shared ‘more optimism this week’ that the Blues can land the 24-year-old.

 

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Chelsea make major £18m transfer decision amid Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk claim

Chelsea star Andrey Santos is yet to receive a work permit to play for his new club after he was signed in the January transfer window from Vasco da Gama. Blues fans have been able to watch Santos play though, with the teenager starring at the under-20 World Cup as the captain of Brazil.

Santos has scored a number of goals at the tournament justifying the £18million spent by Chelsea to acquire his services. Understandably big-money moves for Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk have overshadowed the Blues’ shrewd purchase.

Fernandez made his debut against Fulham three days after completing a £106million move to Stamford Bridge following Noni Madueke, Mudryk, Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana and Santos. All six have since made their debuts in west London, but Santos is yet to do so and he could be waiting a while longer yet.

A work permit not being secured means he cannot play for Chelsea but the Blues are hoping his performances in South America at the U-20 tournament will help, if it doesn’t, then he will be loaned to a Brazilian club that qualified for Libertadores.

Santos has already been given a glowing verdict by a number of people and many at Chelsea consider him to be the best transfer made by the club in the winter window.

Speaking on The London is Blue podcast, journalist Matt Law said: “Chelsea are very, very excited about Andrey Santos. There’s people in the club that think he’s been their best January Transfer.”

Santos is very much a signing for the future but Chelsea will be hoping they can see him in action soon given his potential and displays for the Brazilian national team.

 

 

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Mykhailo Mudryk, Reece James, Pulisic – Chelsea injury news and return dates ahead of West Ham

For the first time in a number of months, Graham Potter looks to no longer have more than 10 players on the injury list with Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling all making their returns last week. James was deemed fit enough to start against Fulham, while Chilwell and Sterling returned to action with cameos from the bench.

The Blues remain without Armando Broja, N’Golo Kante, Denis Zakaria, Edouard Mendy, Christian Pulisic and Wesley Fofana, but the latter looks set to be the next player to make a matchday squad return with the Frenchman now back training on the grass.

Following their goalless draw with Fulham, another London derby awaits with Chelsea set to travel to the London Stadium to take on West Ham, who are also suffering from a number of injuries to key players.

With that said, we have taken a look at the latest injury news from Stamford Bridge ahead of Potter doing battle with David Moyes on Saturday.

Mykhailo Mudryk

Mudryk was brought off at half-time in the Blues’ clash with Fulham. At first, the decision to replace the winger appeared to be tactical but Potter later confirmed otherwise.

The 22-year-old posted an Instagram story on Monday of what looks to be the grass pitches at Cobham which could indicate he is back to 100 per cent and training again.

What Potter has said: “He’s had a heavy cold this week and he was just feeling heavy-legged at half time and we didn’t want to take a chance. He’s still in the process where we’re building up his minutes after the break he was on in Ukraine. So that was our decision there.”

Expected return date: West Ham (A) – February 11

Reece James

James was named in the starting line-up against Fulham and he was brought off at the hour mark. The Blues will be looking to ease the right-back back in the frame amid worries that he could trigger another injury.

What Potter said: “Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] are back in the squad, not ready for 90 minutes but in the squad.”

Injury: Knee

Expected return date: West Ham (A) – February 11

Ben Chilwell

Cucurella was preferred to Chilwell against Fulham but the Englishman made his return from injury as a substitute late into the second-half.

What Potter said: “Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] are back in the squad, not ready for 90 minutes but in the squad.”

Injury: Thigh

Expected return date: West Ham (A) – February 11

Raheem Sterling

Potter also welcomed back Sterling to his squad and the former Man City man got his first taste of minutes in over a month as he came on against Fulham in the second-half.

What Potter said: “Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Raheem Sterling, and Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] are back in the squad, not ready for 90 minutes but in the squad.”

Injury: Hamstring

Expected return date: West Ham (A) – February 11

Christian Pulisic

Pulisic has issued a two-word hint on his Chelsea return date as he continues to nurse a knee injury. The 24-year-old came off second best in a collision with John Stones when the Blues locked horns with Manchester City in the Premier League earlier last month.

The winger has posted an image on himself from when he limped off the pitch against City. Pulisic simply captioned his post: “Back soon.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CoPnUKIokSf/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

What Potter said: “No chance, no, he will be out past that [January transfer deadline] and there was never any consideration about him leaving anyway. He is a couple of months out.

“He is disappointed but he is optimistic about coming back quicker than two months. He is in that phase where he is keeping his fingers crossed and hoping his rehab goes well.”

Injury: Knee

Expected return date: March

N’Golo Kante

Kante has suffered an injury-ridden campaign thus far but the midfielder has finally returned to the pitches at Cobham, albeit training alone. The Frenchman is getting closer to full fitness but, until he joins the first-team group, a debut under Potter is left to be desired.

What Potter said: “N’Golo did his first couple of days out training on his own but there is still a long, long way to go.”

Injury: Hamstring

Expected return date: Early March

Wesley Fofana

Having missed most of the season so far, former Leicester man Wesley Fofana’s influence at the back has been somewhat felt in his absence. However, in a huge boost to the Blues and the defender himself, it appears as though a return is just around the corner, having been pictured in training again.

He was not named in the squad to face Fulham. However, the Frenchman has seemingly now joined full first-team training after judging by his latest Instagram story.

What Potter said: “Wesley [Fofana] has been part training partly with the team and he will be stepping it up next week.”

Injury: Knee

Expected return date: West Ham (A) – February 11

Denis Zakaria

The Chelsea loanee has impressed, forcing his way into the first-team after a slow start to his career at Stamford Bridge. However, in a huge blow to the side, he was forced off after 56 minutes in the defeat to Fulham last month.

What Potter said: “Denis is going to be probably four weeks. It’s the top of his quad and that is a blow for us. Hopefully, he can return sooner.”

Injury: Thigh

Expected return date: February

Edouard Mendy

Chelsea confirmed that Mendy had undergone an operation on a fractured finger sustained during training, meaning he will be absent from the squad in the coming games. The Senegalese shot-stopper was not in the squad to face Fulham.

Injury: Finger

Expected return date: Unknown

Armando Broja

Chelsea are set to be without Broja for sometime after the striker suffered a knee injury in a mid-season friendly against Aston Villa. The 20-year-old screamed in pain following a collision with Ezri Konsa and he was subsequently stretchered off the field of play.

He looked to be in considerable pain and was seen to be clutching his leg as he was tended to by medical staff. The Albania international had no history of knee injuries and his injury is a major blow with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out of form.

Broja is expected to be out for at least the remainder of the season after learning that he needs surgery to fix a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee, football.london understands. He could be out of action for a minimum of five months and a maximum of 12.

What Potter said: ”It was just an unfortunate action. He got caught up with their player and the ground. It doesn’t look positive at the moment but it’s too early to say. Fingers crossed but it is an awkward one.”

Injury: Knee

Expected return date: Summer/Autumn 2023

 

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‘Agreement soon’: Fabrizio Romano suggests Chelsea are hoping to announce good news in near future

Fabrizio Romano has claimed on Twitter that Chelsea are progressing in talks to extend Thiago Silva’s contract at Stamford Bridge.

The Brazilian has continued to defy the ageing process in recent months, remaining arguably the club’s best player in that time.

He has been responsible for any of the Blues’ best partnerships at the back, moving seamlessly into the back four some had feared he would struggle in.

This has recently been shown with the introduction of Benoit Badiashile to the first team.

The Frenchman joined the club with little fanfare in comparison to a number of the other signings made last month, however he has arguably been the most impressive so far.

The Blues are yet to concede in the three games he has played in, with them all being alongside Silva.

Chelsea close to Silva extension

Reports had claimed in recent weeks that both parties were interested in extending his tenure at Stamford Bridge.Now, Romano has claimed that the Blues are confident of an agreement being reached soon.

He said: “Chelsea are progressing in talks with Thiago Silva to extend the contract for one more season, valid until June 2024. Discussions ongoing, waiting for green light.

“Considered top player and leader into the dressing room, Chelsea hope to complete the agreement soon.”

It is very obvious that the club will be hopeful that they can get all the leadership qualities possible from Silva to their young defenders.

As well as Badiashile, Wesley Fofana and Levi Colwill will look to learn from the Champions League winner, as they get started on what many hope to be long and prosperous Chelsea careers.

If they have anywhere near the impact Silva has even in the short time he has been in England, they will go on to be sensational centre-backs.

 

 

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Report: Huge Chelsea injury boost with ‘outstanding’ £75m star set to return for West Ham

Chelsea have reportedly been handed a huge injury boost ahead of their clash with West Ham United on Saturday.

Chelsea boss Graham Potter already welcomed Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Raheem Sterling back to action on Friday.

And now there could be some even better news on the horizon for the Blues.

West Ham beat Chelsea 3-2 at the London Stadium last season, and we are in desperate need of similar result this time around.

David Moyes has a terrible record against the ‘so-called’ big six though, and despite Chelsea’s struggles, we will undoubtedly be in for a tough game on Saturday…

Chelsea handed huge injury boost ahead of West Ham clash

Now is probably a bad time to come head-to-head with Chelsea in the Premier League.

The likes of Sterling returning to action is bad news enough – has eight goals and eight assists in 19 games against the Hammers (Transfermarkt)!

And having James and Chilwell back will be absolutely huge for the west London outfit too.

But now Chelsea might have another key player back in time for the West Ham clash as well – Wesley Fofana. That’s according to Football.London who claim that the 22-year-old centre-back’s expected return date is this coming Saturday.

Fofana joined Chelsea from Leicester City in the summer of 2022 for around £75 million (Sky Sports). However, he hasn’t played a game for the Blues since October 5th after suffering a knee injury.

The young Frenchman is a key player for the Blues, and has been described as ‘outstanding’ by The Telegraph.

West Ham desperately need a positive result against Chelsea on Saturday – a win ideally. However, it seems as though we could be in for a really tough afternoon with Potter welcoming so many key players back from injury.

Wesley Fofana returning to action will be a major boost for Chelsea and a big blow for West Ham. Having said that, considering the fact that he has spent four months on the sidelines, it is unlikely that he will be thrown straight back into action.

We will have to wait and see.

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Full Chelsea squad revealed for Fulham clash amid Enzo Fernandez wait and Reece James return

Two weeks off for Chelsea comes to an end as they face west London rivals Fulham at Stamford Bridge in the hope of sparking further optimism at SW6. Having drawn to Liverpool at Anfield last time out, the Blues have secured three new signings since they last played.

Noni Madueke has had plenty of time on the training pitch to meet his new teammates after he was officially announced while Malo Gusto also signed but won’t be available. The Frenchman is back out on loan at Lyon for the rest of the season – but the Premier League’s most expensive player ever could make his debut.

Enzo Fernandez was the big deadline day story to follow and his remarkable saga came to a conclusion on Tuesday night when a £106.8million deal was agreed. It’s not yet certain whether he will be involved against Marco Silva’s men though.

Speaking ahead of the game Graham Potter said: “We’ll see. We’ve got to go through the paperwork and he needs to get clearance and all that. I’ve spoken to him.”

With Jorginho leaving to join Arsenal on deadline day too it was one-in-one-out in the midfield and therefore the Blues would benefit greatly if their Argentine superstar is available. Elsewhere, Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk could make their first starts for the club.

Here’s the full squad available.

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Edouard Mendy, Marcus Bettinelli, Gabriel Slonina

Defenders: Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James, Thiago Silva, Benoit Badiashile, Cesar Azpilicueta, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibaly, Lewis Hall, Ben Chilwell

Midfielders: Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Enzo Fernandez, Carney Chukwuemeka

Attackers: Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Noni Madueke, Mykhailo Mudryk, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Datro Fofana, Omari Hutchinson.

 

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Chelsea prioritising 3 positions this summer with a host of names mentioned in report

Despite Chelsea just having one of the best transfer windows in history, they are already making plans for the summer market, and things are not expected to be quietening down for the club anytime soon.

The new owners mean business, and according to sources at Si & Dan Talk Chelsea, they are now looking towards the summer and prioritising three positions in particular to try and complete this big squad rebuild.

There are a host of names mentioned in the article that Chelsea are targeting, and the midfield will be a priority once again, despite spending over £100m to land Enzo Fernandez from Benfica in January.

Chelsea have a desire to sign at least one more midfielder in the summer, and there are scenarios that could even be two. The main names topping the list of targets are Declan Rice, Romeo Lavia, and Moises Caicedo. But Chelsea are also exploring many other options in that area including Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton, and Kouadio Kone from Borussia.

 

 

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Player ‘definitely wants to return’ to Chelsea – Move already a ‘done deal’ for summer

Callum Hudson-Odoi will return to Chelsea in the summer, with it already a ‘done deal’ that he won’t be staying at Bayer Leverkusen.

That’s according to Sky Germany, who say that the winger ‘definitely wants to return’ to the Blues and has not reached any agreement to remain in Germany.

The winger has been with Leverkusen since the summer, joining them on loan in search of regular playing time and the hope of reigniting his career.

He has failed to do that in the Bundesliga, though, managing just one assist in 11 games in the Bundesliga this season and featuring in less than half of the available minutes.

The loan has not gone well for the 22-year-old, with a report yesterday explaining that his ‘decline continues unchecked’ at the club after recent years in which he has ‘stagnated’.

That did not paint a pretty picture, to say the least, and Sky say a decision has already been made for him to return to Chelsea.

They report that his departure from Leverkusen is a ‘done deal anyway’ and the winger ‘wants to return’ to Stamford Bridge, as he has not reached any agreement with the German side regarding a possible extension of his loan or a contract.

That is not likely to happen at any point but if his performances don’t improve, it is also ‘questionable’ whether Chelsea will want him.

The competition for him in Graham Potter’s squad is fierce and at this point a sale in the summer seems more ‘realistic’.

 

 

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Chelsea close to completing yet another deal after £323m January transfer spree

Chelsea are close to reaching an agreement with Thiago Silva over a new contract, the defender has revealed.

The Blues’ focus over the last few weeks has primarily been on hoovering up some of Europe’s best young talent in the transfer market, but negotiations with Silva, 38, have still been taking place in the background.

No club in the Premier League came close to matching Chelsea’s activity in January: the Londoners shelled out in excess of £323million to acquire eight players; including World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, who was signed on deadline day for a British-record transfer fee of £105m.

Remarkably, the Blues are now closing in on another deal – this time, with Silva, who has quickly established himself as one of the club’s most influential players since his switch from Paris Saint-Germain back in the summer of 2020.

The Brazilian defender has clocked up over a century of appearances since making the switch to Stamford Bridge but is due to become a free agent in the summer.

Chelsea are eager to reward one of their most consistent performers with a fresh deal to extend his spell in the capital – and Silva revealed that the two parties are edging closer to striking an agreement.

He told ESPN: “We are negotiating. Everything will probably happen in the next few days. My intention, and that of the club as well, is to stay together. I know that the club needs me right now.

“I am here to be able to help, they are young players, anyway. I know that, with my experience, I can help in this process of rebuilding the club, I’m here for that, willing to do this, however, I know that my responsibility is very great.”

Chelsea boss Graham Potter has only been at the helm since September, but the former Brighton chief quickly realised how integral the former AC Milan man is for the Blues.

Potter admitted shortly after his arrival that the final decision over an extended deal was likely to be Silva’s. However, he outlined his desire to keep the “incredible” centre-back at the club.

Speaking back in October about Silva’s future, Potter said: “I think the decision is Thiago’s. I’ve been here three or four weeks. I see his qualities. He’s an incredible person, incredible player. The level he can play at, the performance level he can reach, and the respect he has through the game is just incredible. All I can do is try and help him enjoy his football here, be part of a winning team and all of the rest is something for him and the club to think about.”

 

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Enzo Fernandez starts, Kante dilemma: Best Chelsea XI after dream £323m January transfer window

Chelsea enjoyed a hectic end to the January transfer window after signing Enzo Fernandez in the eleventh hour on deadline day. The 22-year-old’s arrival saw the Blues’ total spend for the month amount to an eye-watering £323million.

After penning an eight-and-a-half-year deal at Stamford Bridge, Fernandez has followed Mykhailo Mudryk, Joao Felix, Noni Madueke, David Datro and Andrey Santos to Cobham, while Malo Gusto arrives in the summer. With so many new players at Graham Potter’s disposal, he must now pick the west Londoners’ best starting lineup.

But, the Chelsea boss has been left with more questions than answers as he looks to integrate new cultures, play styles and personalities into one changing room. There have been plenty of promising early signs thus far as Benoit Badiashile and Thiago Silva forge a good relationship.

So, with that being said, football.london has taken a look at Potter’s best starting lineup as Chelsea head into the second half of the season looking for Champions League qualification

Formation

A 4-2-3-1 allows Potter to field as many of the Blues’ exciting forward players as possible, within reason, while also operating a strong defensive structure. It’s likely that the Chelsea boss will prefer a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-2-1 until the end of the season though.

Goalkeeper

Kepa Arrizabalaga remains to be the west Londoners’ strongest option between the sticks for now. But, if Edouard Mendy can impress when given the opportunity, the Senegalese star will be back in the starting lineup.

A wildcard option for Chelsea would be Gabriel Slonina. The 18-year-old joined the first-team squad in the winter and, while he’s relatively inexperienced, the shot-stopper has an outside chance of leapfrogging his competitors.

Defence

Luckily for Potter, the back four picks itself which can only be a good sign. Badiashile and Silva appear to have found the makings of a great centre-back partnership.

At full-back are Ben Chilwell and Reece James. Marc Cucurella is a very good backup option to have at left-back but, once the former returns to full fitness, the Englishman will surely return to the starting lineup.

Chelsea's best XI in a 4-2-3-1 after transfer deadline day if Todd Boehly can sign Enzo Fernandez

Midfield

A World Cup-winning midfield pivot of N’Golo Kante and Enzo Fernandez will be a sight to behold once the Frenchman returns from injury. Kante is yet to play under Potter after picking up a hamstring injury against Tottenham in August.

He’s been on the sidelines ever since as he continues to recover. In the meantime, Chelsea will have to operate a three-man midfield to make up for the 31-year-old’s famous work rate.

Attack

A front-four of Mudryk, Felix, Madueke and Kai Havertz will be a force to be reckoned with, not to mention the additions of Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount off the bench. But, Chelsea have an issue in the striker department.

Havertz isn’t a natural talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is out of form and Fofana has recently joined. The latter of the trio could surprise many when given a run of games.