Chelsea is actively working towards securing the signing of Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell after meeting Timo Werner’s £54 million (€60m/$68m) release clause at RB Leipzig.
Neither Liverpool nor Manchester United was willing to pay that sum for the 24-year-old forward, allowing the Blues to close in on their second signing ahead of next season.
Manager Frank Lampard and defender Antonio Rudiger both spoke to Werner directly before he agreed on a move to Stamford Bridge and his agent Karlheinz Forster instructed Leipzig’s chiefs that his client was ready to move to west London at the end of the season.
After February’s £37m (€40m/$46m) deal for Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech, the Blues’ spending is now up to a combined £91m ($114m) but we have learned that Chilwell is being pursued with the same energy as their latest two signings.
Unlike the deals for Werner and Ziyech, Chilwell’s deal is complicated due to the absence of a release clause. Therefore, the club needs to negotiate a fee with Leicester in order to bring him to Stamford Bridge next season.
Manchester United’s deal for Harry Maguire has set a precedent in this regard and Chilwell will likely cost over £80m ($100m). Leicester, however, hasn’t put a price tag on their key asset who they intend to keep.
The Premier League end-of-season standings could yet impact negotiating positions as Leicester are well-placed, along with Chelsea, to qualify for the Champions League.
Beyond Chilwell, Chelsea may re-ignite interest in their former academy star and Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake. Chelsea sold Ake to the Cherries for £20m ($25m) in 2017 but inserted a £40m ($50m) buyback clause which expires this summer.
The Blues may wait and see what happens with Chilwell – the club’s primary target – before moving for anyone else but Bournemouth being relegated may allow them to sign Ake on a slightly reduced fee despite the clause.
After reinforcements to the left-back position, Chelsea isn’t expected to conduct any other major signings. Manchester United are strong favorites to secure the signing of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, who would welcome a summer move to Old Trafford. The 20-year-old will snub any offers to renew his contract at the German club.
Chelsea could continue to add players in swap deals or on loans depending on how their summer develops at a later stage. They also hold interest in lower priority targets like Brentford’s Said Benrahma and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze. They also have alternative left-back options in Porto’s Alex Telles and Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico.
The west London club has long promised to back Lampard in the transfer market after he guided the club through a transfer ban using youth and former loanee players. The club saw their transfer ban lifted in January but made no signings in the winter window.
Lampard acknowledged that this would make it harder to qualify for the top four but he was broadly in support of the Chelsea hierarchy who secured Ziyech’s transfer for the summer only a matter of days later.
Indeed, much of Chelsea’s spending has been funded by high-profile sales, with the proceeds from Real Madrid’s £88m ($110m) deal for Eden Hazard being reinvested. The Blues also await payments from Atletico Madrid for former striker Alvaro Morata who was loaned with a view to buy for £58m ($73m).
Chelsea will also look to offload players this summer; Emerson Palmieri or Marcos Alonso will be sold to make way for a new left-back.
Both players have interest from Inter and Antonio Conte, while Emerson has further suitors in Serie A duo Juventus and Napoli.
Talks over new deals for Pedro and Willian appear to have come to a halt in recent weeks. Pedro has free transfer interest from at least four clubs including Real Betis, Roma, Inter Miami, and Vissel Kobe.
Willian’s situation is more troubling as London clubs Tottenham and Arsenal look to sign him on a pre-contract agreement. Werner’s arrival, alongside Ziyech, only adds to the uncertainty around the Brazil international.
Chelsea has to agree on new contracts with the duo before June 23 in order to keep them until the end of the season, which will go beyond the date their contracts expire on June 30.
Chelsea is also looking for buyers for Michy Batshuayi, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Danny Drinkwater. However, they may run into issues with player sales this summer as the coronavirus crisis impacts club budgets in the upcoming transfer window.