Wednesday 13 December 2017

Antonio Conte closes in on Monaco star - which could see Mourinho poach Chelsea midfielder

Tiemoue Bakayoko of Monaco (left) and Nemanja Matic of Chelsea (right).
Tiemoue Bakayoko of Monaco (left) and Nemanja Matic of Chelsea (right).

Miguel Delaney

Chelsea are in talks with Monaco over the £42m signing of defensive midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, in a move that could then see Nemanja Matic join Manchester United.

Antonio Conte is currently looking to enhance his midfield this summer while a total of six signings have been outlined by the title-winning manager as he plans to strengthen and deepen his squad, and the energy of 22-year-old Bakayoko has been highlighted as key to increasing the thrust of the side.

The French international has been a key player in Monaco’s season in which the French club clinched the Ligue 1 title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Should Chelsea complete the signing, it will mean Matic’s playing time is likely to be more limited next season, and would encourage United to make a firm bid.

Jose Mourinho remains an admirer of his former midfielder at Stamford Bridge, and it is understood the Serbian would be keen to work with his old boss, with personal terms having already been discussed between intermediaries.

Much depends on the signing of Bakayoko, as Mourinho’s alternative options in midfield are his Monaco teammate Fabinho - who can also play right-back - and Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier.

The French champions have been braced for a raid on their revelatory young squad - having already sold Bernardo Silva to Manchester City for £43m - but still do not want to sell more than three or four of their stars.

That means it is unlikely that both Bakayoko and Fabinho get sold in the same summer, although Chelsea hope to sign the former in the next few weeks, in what is likely to be their first signing of the summer.

(© Independent News Service)

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