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Gvardiol joins, Nkunku starts, Ziyech U-turn: Graham Potter’s dream Chelsea XI after £223m spend

The January transfer window is expected to bring lots of business across the board and Chelsea are one of the sides that will be the most active. Not only is Graham Potter looking to salvage his side’s season with so much left to play for there is also the small task of overhauling the squad.

Todd Boehly stamped his authority as co-owner last summer but now there will be key signs of development in everything the Blues do with efficient long-term planning just as important as beating Bournemouth on December 27 when football returns for Premier League sides.

Potter is looking to shape the squad but also mend it. The Blues have gaps across the field with rightback, central defence, central midfield and centre forward all looking bare and only set to worsen. To sort this out in January alone is impossible, but by the end of next summer the aim is to truly start moving forward.

Although this is too long for many and judgements on Potter have been made already, the end of the season is a better scale but still far too small to decipher his value in the wider scheme and the ‘project’, Chelsea will be in position to lose players not in the plans, develop younger players through the club and implement new signings as well.

With this in mind, here’s how Potter could have his side looking in the not too distant future.

Potter’s new No. 1 appears firmly above Edouard Mendy after his resurrection into the side before the domestic break. Although there are plans for a new shot-stopper to come in, given the attention needed elsewhere this could be kicked down the street a little bit longer. If either of them come into form then short-term worries can be eluded.

Reece James

Maybe the easiest pick of them all. The 23-year-old is a major miss when he’s out and balances the side from full-back. He’s in at right-back in a 4-3-3.

Wesley Fofana

Having been in and out of the side since joining, Fofana is one of the ‘like a new signing’ players that Potter will have in the New Year. With the age of Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva, getting the 22-year-old minutes and experience will be key to the defence moving forward.

Josko Gvardiol

The first new signing in this team, Gvardiol slots in at centre-back next to Fofana on the left. As a left footed, athletic and progressive defender he looks suited to the Premier League, Chelsea fans just need to hope Manchester City don’t get him first.

Ben Chilwell

Another major miss as the equilibrium of the squad gets thrown off, Chilwell is a big blow for Potter right now. When he’s back he’ll be straight into the action on the left of the defence.

Declan Rice

Perhaps the most important player in the side, if he joins. Rice offers a midfield shield to whoever he plays for and has been a long-term target for Chelsea. If Potter can get his hands on the West Ham captain over the summer for less than £75million, then Chelsea are in business.

Mason Mount

Rice’s best friend and England teammate, Mount slots back into his favoured midfield role as an orthodox No. 8. Although form has been down this season, Mount offers so much off the ball and can do a role between midfield and attack that very few can for the Blues.

Mateo Kovacic

This could easily have been Jude Bellingham, but we’ll limit the dream scenario a little bit, especially considering Rice is in there.

Kovacic, if fit, is one of the best players in a midfield three and can dictate matches, drive forward and evade spaces others simply can’t. Potter will be keen to get the most out of the Croatian in a well balanced midfield that perhaps only lacks goals.

Christopher Nkunku

To make up for the lack of goals, Nkunku has been purchased. He’s now all but signed for the Blues but won’t be playing until next season, with the agreement for June 2023.

With versatility across the frontline, Nkunku can float about and be a creative spark from either side of the attack or in behind. We’ve got him on the left, for now.

Hakim Ziyech

Coming in on the right in his favoured spot is a surprise. Ziyech may well be on the way out of Stamford Bridge but if Potter can harness any of the World Cup magic and dynamism that Morocco got out of him then Chelsea could be set for some entertaining times.

David Fofana

This is risky, especially given the Molde man is just 19 and will take time to adapt. But in a slightly futuristic Chelsea side, their expected £10million Ivorian striker is leading the line here. As a well balanced forward he can offer a focal point but also finishes on either foot.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang misses out due to his age, Kai Havertz doesn’t have a defined role and Christian Pulisic frankly had a worse World Cup than Ziyech, that’s about it. Armando Broja is a shoe in but his injury offers a more immediate chance for David Fofana in this side.

Chelsea dream XI (4-3-3): Kepa; James, W. Fofana, Gvardiol, Chilwell; Rice, Mount, Kovacic; Nkunku, D. Fofana, Ziyech

 

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Report: ‘Devastating’ player more likely to join Chelsea than Liverpool

West Ham United defensive midfielder Declan Rice is more likely to join Graham Potter’s Chelsea than Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool or Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United, according to GiveMeSport.

The report has claimed that Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all are interested in signing England international midfielder Rice from Premier League rivals West Ham.

The 23-year-old, who can also play as a defender and was a key player for England at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. wants to leave the Hammers in the summer of 2023, and Chelsea are ‘most likely destination’.

COULD LIVERPOOL SIGN DECLAN RICE AHEAD OF CHELSEA?

In our opinion, Liverpool should seriously consider making a bid for West Ham United defensive midfielder Declan Rice next summer and snap him before Chelsea.

The 23-year-old – described as “devastating” by former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy on Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel this month – has progressed a lot over the past few years and is now one of the first names on the England teamsheet.

Rice plays consistently well for the Hammers, and he is at the right age to take the next step in his career and move to a bigger club such as Liverpool.

Liverpool do need to refresh their midfield and add more younger and more dynamic players to their team.

And we think that Rice would be perfect for the Reds.

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Chelsea to fight Real Madrid to seal £100million double transfer – with one deal already done

Chelsea are planning to ramp up the pressure on Real Madrid in the battle for Josko Gvardiol by making a move to land him next month.

The Croatia defender, who plays for RB Leipzig, is wanted by both clubs but Los Blancos had planned to wait until the summer to try to sign him. And Leipzig, too, would rather sell him at the end of the season.

However, Chelsea don’t want to wait and the Bundesliga outfit are bracing themselves for a move from the Blues when the transfer window opens in two weeks. Gvardiol’s deal with the Bundesliga club runs until June 2027, having signed from Dinamo Zagreb in his homeland in 2021. He cost just north of £15million then but his value has tripled with Leipzig ready to demand around £45m with performance-related add-ons to follow.

Chelsea have spoken with Gvardiol’s agents about an initial contract offer of three-and-a-half seasons.

Real are not understood to have reached that stage of their pursuit yet but they are expected to offer the player a four-year deal from the summer. Rumours in Spain say there is a hope Bernabeu favourite Luka Modric, Gvardiol’s compatriot, could influence his decision.

But the defender will respect Leipzig’s call on whether or not to consider offers next month before making his choice.

Josko Gvardiol has impressed for Croatia

Meanwhile, Christopher Nkunku’s move to Chelsea is done and dusted — with the France star joining the club in the summer.

The Blues moved quickly in the past few months to stave off competition for Nkunku, who also plays for RBL.

And after terms were agreed prior to the World Cup, the deal to take him to Stamford Bridge in the summer has now been signed and sealed. Nkunku will cost Chelsea around £53million.

In the meantime, Chelsea will look for a loan striker for the rest of the season after Armando Broja suffered a campaign-ending knee injury. The Blues will rival Manchester United, who are also on the lookout to take a goalscorer on loan.

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Chelsea set to complete first January signing and follow it up with second swoop

Chelsea are reportedly close to sealing a deal for Molde wonderkid David Datro Fofana as Graham Potter aims to secure his first Stamford Bridge signing.

The former Brighton schemer was appointed as Thomas Tuchel’s successor in West London back in September and could be set to dip into the market with the January window opening next month. One position that they look set to target is in attack.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed a move to Chelsea in the summer from Barcelona with his back-up Armando Broja having sustained a serious knee injury. The Albanian forward picked up the problem in the mid-season friendly with Premier League rivals Aston Villa.

Amid his injury, Chelsea have already been attempting to seal his potential replacement. As per The Athletic, negotiations with Molde are advanced for the signing of 19-year-old forward Fofana.

As per the reports, a €10million (£8.6million) has been discussed, with the young striker looking sure to become a Chelsea player. Fofana, a two-time Ivorian international has shone for Molde this season.

After progressing through the club’s system, he has gone on to score 21 goals for the Eliteserien side throughout the current campaign and helped the club to the Norwegian title. He is just the latest in a long line of talented players to come out of the club.

The most noteworthy is surely Erling Haaland. The now Manchester City forward progressed through the club’s youth system, developing his goalscoring reputation before moving to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg.

He left to join Borussia Dortmund before sealing his move to the Etihad Stadium in the summer. It remains to be seen if Fofana would be in immediate first-team contention once he moves to Chelsea.

He has already revealed that he is a big fan of the Blues, admitting that a move to the club would be a dream. Speaking to TV2 earlier this year, the Ivorian forward said: “Chelsea have been my favourite club since I was little.

“Drogba played there, so they have always been my club. So it’s my dream.”

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Ten Hag to miss out on top Man Utd target as Chelsea ‘clearly ahead’ in £43m January transfer race

Erik ten Hag looks set to be disappointed in his pursuit of one of his top January targets according to a report which claims Chelsea are ‘clearly ahead’ in the transfer race.

A report on Wednesday claimed Ten Hag is keen on bringing Inter Milan and Netherlands star Denzel Dumfries to Old Trafford as competition for Diogo Dalot.

Corriere dello Sport reported that Ten Hag has ‘directly asked’ for Dumfries as he looks to recuit a new right-back for United.

They add that the English club ‘have been in touch’ with the player’s agent with the view to completing a deal in January.

The Inter Milan defender is said to have a ‘minimum asking price’ of £43m and Ten Hag thinks he would ‘suit his United style’.

Dalot has performed brilliantly for United this term but they are in the market for a new right-back so they can sell Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

But Chelsea were linked with Dumfries while Thomas Tuchel was still in charge and he remains on their wishlist despite the German boss being replaced by Graham Potter, according to TuttoMercatoWeb (via Sport Witness).

The report claims that Chelsea are keen on securing his signing in January but Inter would only agree to that if he’s loaned back to them for the remainder of the season.

It’s therefore claimed that any transfer would be ‘more in June than in January’.

But ‘there have been and still are contacts’ over Dumfries and Chelsea are ‘clearly the club ahead’ of Manchester United and any further suitors.

That’s helped by an already good relationship between the Blues and Inter following successful deals for Romelu Lukaku, in both directions, and Cesare Casadei, who arrived at Stamford Bridge for £11m in the summer.

Reece James is thought to be close to a return after his hamstring injury prevented him from representing England at the World Cup in Qatar, but his absence has proven costly for Chelsea, with Potter keen to have a similar option as backup or competition for the right-back berth.

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‘News to bring you…’ – Sky Sports drop exciting on-air transfer update out of Chelsea – report

Chelsea look set to beat Brighton to the signing of Molde forward David Datro Fofana, according to Sky Sports.

THE LOWDOWN: FOFANA PROFILED

Fofana is just 19 years of age and is primarily a centre-forward but can also turn out on either wing.

The Ivory Coast international is valued at €7m by Transfermarkt and has made 65 senior appearances for his current employers, scoring 24 times and registering 10 assists.

It seems as if the right-footed attacker could now be on his way to Stamford Bridge.

THE LATEST: SKY SPORTS UPDATE

Sky Sports, relayed by Football Daily, shared an on-air update regarding Chelsea and Fofana on Thursday. They said:

‘Breaking news to bring you from the transfer window. Chelsea seem to have won the race with Brighton to sign Molde’s young striker David Datro Fofana – both clubs understood to have been in talks over a deal.

‘Sky Sports News understands that Brighton made an offer of £8.6m but reports today suggest that Chelsea are closing in on an agreement for a similar amount and Fofana could be on the way to Stamford Bridge.’

THE VERDICT: EXCITING

Fofana looks like he could be a future star and has plenty of first-team experience considering he is still a teenager, so a deal under £10m could be a great piece of business in the long run.

Centre-forward is an area of Graham Potter’s squad that could do with addressing, with Armando Broja recently suffering a serious injury.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also struggled since returning to London, netting just three times in 12 games, so Fofana could be the answer at Stamford Bridge for years to come.

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Major Chelsea transfer deal nearly ready, according to Fabrizio Romano

Chelsea look to be closing in on completing the transfer of RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The France international has been a world class performer in the Bundesliga in recent times, and it seems a deal is ‘almost ready’ for him to move to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2023.

Chelsea fans will probably feel they could do with signing Nkunku earlier than that, with Romano adding that the Blues will be in the market for a striker this January.

Still, it is not yet clear if Chelsea will be able to bring the Nkunku signing forward, with Romano suggesting that there could be a number of other options the club decide to look at this winter.

Romano did not name specific names, and suggested it might take a bit more time before we have a clear idea about who those names end up being.

“As I wrote in yesterday’s Briefing, Chelsea will now step up their search for a new striker in January. The Blues wanted one anyway, and the Broja injury makes their plans even clearer,” Romano said.

“Chelsea’s deal for Christopher Nkunku is almost ready, but for the summer, so let’s see what names they look at this January, it will take some time for them to work out their options.

“I can confirm again that Chelsea are not currently in the race for Cristiano Ronaldo, there are no negotiations ongoing, even though Todd Boehly was interested in the summer, before Thomas Tuchel blocked the deal.”

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Chelsea reportedly leading race to sign World Cup forward

Chelsea will be involved in plenty of ‘races’ to sign players over the next couple of transfer windows, that’s one thing you can be sure of.

The club are showing ambition to build a squad that can once again compete at the very top, and they are looking at a number of big names to come in and improve the team right away. January could be pretty busy, and the summer isn’t expected to slow down either.

The Blues are consistently linked with AC Milan forward Rafael Leao, as he continues to stall on a new contract offer from his club.

The Portugal international has not long returned from featuring at the World Cup, but now focus is set to turn back to his future.

Chelsea are ‘frontrunners’ to sign him right now, according to insider Dean Jones, speaking to Give Me Sport this week.

Jones believes Chelsea have some hope.

He said: “Chelsea have great interest in Leao and there is some hope over landing him, especially after he briefly followed them on social media the other day!

“But Milan are so desperate not to lose him right now because replacing him will be hard.

“Chelsea are the frontrunners, though, if this opens up. We will have to see how this goes over the next couple of weeks.”

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Chelsea in talks to sign Ligue 1 star as Tuchel looks to secure £82m double swoop

Chelsea are in talks with Paris-Saint Germain over a deal to sign Presnel Kimpembe as Thomas Tuchel looks to land another centre-back, according to The Athletic.

As of now, Chelsea and Juventus are the teams interested in signing the Frenchman. The report also adds that PSG are open to letting their man go should a club meet their valuation for him. And, as per The Independent, PSG have valued Kimpembe at £50 million including add-ons (€60 million).

However, it appears Chelsea are hoping to secure a cheaper deal as the Independent claims there is a £16m (€20m) gap between the two clubs’ valuation of Kimpembe. Therefore, the negotiations could be complicated.

Chelsea are yet to submit a bid for the 26-year-old but the Frenchman has emerged as a serious option for Thomas Tuchel, who is looking for a left-side centre-back this summer.

Tuchel has made it clear that reinforcing the defence is his number one priority. Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger have joined Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively. Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso are also tipped to leave the club. Therefore, recruiting defensive reinforcements is a matter of urgency for the German tactician.

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Chelsea readying ‘mega offer’ for forward in January – Could be ‘over €100m’, ‘alarms’ ringing at club

Despite Portugal disappointing many by exiting the World Cup in the quarter-finals at the hands of Morocco, a couple of members of their squad saw their value increase in the tournament.

Hat-trick hero against Switzerland Gonçalo Ramos was one of them, while Rafael Leão, often called upon as a sub, was the other, as he impacted every game he came on in some shape or form.

That will have pleased both Chelsea and Milan, with the two clubs currently locked in a battle for the Portugal international.

We say this because while the forward is already contracted with the Serie A side, he has yet to renew there, leaving them in a precarious position.

That’s because Chelsea are very interested in him, having been so since the summer, and are ‘ready to return’ for him in January.

This is according to Corriere dello Sport, who explain there are ‘alarms’ ringing in Milan as the Blues prepare a ‘mega offer’ for the Portuguese.

The Italians want above all to renew their star and are in talks with the player’s lawyer, Ted Dimvula, to get something done, and are even prepared to break their wage limit to ensure he stays.

On the other side, ‘there is a possible new attempt by Chelsea’ on the way, with the newspaper reckoning it will be ‘over €100m’ this time.

Not only that, but they are also ready to pay the player’s part of a €20m compensation to Sporting CP shared between Leão and Lille, which has been an ongoing issue.