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Friday 23 February 2018

Kante to sign £150,000-a-week Chelsea deal

N'Golo Kante. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
N'Golo Kante. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Sam Wallace

Chelsea have agreed a £30m transfer fee with Leicester City for N'Golo Kante - and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is set to join the France midfielder at Stamford Bridge.

Leicester have admitted defeat in their efforts to keep Kante and Chelsea were last night putting the finishing touches to the deal that will see him sign a five-year contract with a basic wage of £150,000-a-week.

Conte believes Kante could be the club's most important signing of the summer, as he will provide much-needed energy in the middle of the park. The 25-year-old was one of the best players in the Premier League last season and also performed well for France at Euro 2016.

Leicester offered Kante a new £100,000-a-week contract, but the player is keen to be part of Conte's Chelsea revolution even though it means giving up the prospect of playing Champions League football this season.

The arrival of Kante could force Nemanja Matic, who suffered an alarming dip in form last season, to consider his future, even though the club are not looking to sell the Serbian

Kante becomes Chelsea's second summer signing following the arrival of striker Michy Batshuayi, and Conte wants more players before the season starts.

Chelsea have already made a bid for central defender Koulibaly, but their pursuit of the Senegal star has been complicated by strong interest from Everton that has driven up the price.

Everton see Koulibaly as the perfect replacement for Manchester City-bound John Stones, but the 25-year-old is understood to favour a move to Stamford Bridge.

Koulibaly is said to be hoping that Chelsea can agree a deal with Napoli, but could still be convinced to go to Goodison Park if Everton outbid their rivals.

Everton want to be sure of securing a replacement for Stones before sanctioning his move to City and are holding out for a £50m fee for the 22-year-old, who was last year the subject of four failed bids from Chelsea.

Conte, who has flown to Austria with his squad for a pre-season training camp and takes charge of his first game against Rapid Vienna today, still wants another new striker, but his pursuit of Alvaro Morata is proving tricky, with Real Madrid playing hardball.

Chelsea have failed with one bid for Morata, with Real claiming they will not sell the 23-year-old Spain star unless a club match their£62m valuation of him.

Meanwhile, Everton have made an audacious approach for Leicester's head of recruitment, Steve Walsh, and want him as their new director of football.

Talks have been continuing this week and Walsh, who signed a new contract only six weeks ago, has not travelled to Austria to join Claudio Ranieri and his squad for their pre-season training camp.

Walsh is regarded as one of English football's most highly regarded recruitment chiefs after being credited with the discoveries of Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and Kanté.

Elsewhere, Dimitri Payet has made it clear that his immediate future remains with West Ham despite speculation that he could soon leave.

Hammers co-chairman David Gold has pinned a £50m price tag on the Frenchman, who has been linked with moves to Chelsea, City and Paris St Germain.

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