Tuesday 22 May 2018

Chelsea consider targeting Anthony Martial if Manchester United cannot convince him to stay

Anthony Martial. Photo: Nigel French/Empics/PA
Anthony Martial. Photo: Nigel French/Empics/PA

Matt Law

Chelsea are among the clubs taking a keen interest in Anthony Martial’s situation at Manchester United, but owner Roman Abramovich will once again have to wheel and deal his way through the transfer window.

Abramovich is keen to spend big this summer, but is facing a shortfall between £50million and £70m if Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League and will have to sell players in order to satisfy Financial Fair Play rules.

The club’s loan army could pay dividends, with Chelsea comfortably able to raise over £100million if they sell off some of the players who have spent time elsewhere.

Despite the uncertainty over who will be Chelsea’s manager next season, with head coach Antonio Conte expected to leave, Abramovich is preparing to refresh the club’s squad following a difficult Premier League title defence.

Other than trying to strengthen the defence and midfield, Chelsea will attempt to boost their forward options and are having to consider the possibility of what to do if Real Madrid make a big offer for Eden Hazard.

Martial, who can play anywhere across a front three, is viewed as a potential target if United cannot convince the Frenchman to stay at Old Trafford. His contract runs to 2019 and there is a ‘plus one’ option that means his value will not drop dramatically this summer.

Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur have already shown an interest in Martial, with the Italians thought to be ready to pay £44m and that would comfortably fit into Chelsea’s budget – as would his salary with the 22-year-old currently thought to earn £65,000-a-week.

Jose Mourinho would rather keep Martial at United and the club may not want to allow him to stay in the Premier League if he does leave, but the Portuguese has proved in the past that he is willing to let players join rivals for the right money.

There are also good relations between United and Chelsea, following Nemanja Matic’s move to Old Trafford last summer and Mourinho has made no secret of his ongoing admiration of Willian.

Chelsea still hope to convince Hazard to sign a new contract and stay at Stamford Bridge, but face an anxious wait to see if Real firm up their long-term interest with a serious offer.

But Abramovich can easily raise the money to make up a possible Champions League shortfall and satisfy Financial Fair Play without having to sell off any of Chelsea’s stars.

Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing Michy Batshuayi, who Chelsea value at around £50m, while Kurt Zouma and Kenedy would both command at least £20m each. The Blues would also expect to pocket up to £10m for individuals such as Marco van Ginkel, who has been at PSV Eindhoven, and Lucas Piazon, who is helping Fulham’s promotion bid.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham will not be sold, but Danny Drinkwater could leave Chelsea just one year after his move from Leicester City. West Ham United are one of the clubs ready to pay £30m for the midfielder.

There are also doubts over the futures of David Luiz, who has been out injured after falling out with Conte, and Pedro Rodriguez, who has not been a regular starter this season.

Financial Fair Play rules have limited Abramovich to a net outlay of £119m since 2014, which places the club sixth in the list of the Premier League’s highest spenders and shows how their business model has changed.

Sources close to the Russian insist his commitment to ensuring Chelsea remain successful remains as strong as ever, but he is working under stricter parameters than Manchester City and United.

Abramovich has been honoured by the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia for investing over £365m into Jewish communities in Russia, Israel and other countries around the world.

FJCR president, Rabbi Alexander Boroda, has claimed that 80 per cent of the developments in Jewish life in Russia are thanks to Abramovich, saying: “He never talks about it, but I want to because people don’t understand who is the source of it is – and it is him.”

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