Monday 20 August 2018

Chelsea prepare for deadline day exodus after capturing star duo

Chelsea are paying a world record €80m for Athletic Bilbao’s goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Chelsea are paying a world record €80m for Athletic Bilbao’s goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Matt Law

Chelsea are preparing for an exodus of their squad players as they tie up the world-record signing of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and the loan arrival of midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid.

Kepa underwent a medical yesterday ahead of him and Kovacic being formally announced as Chelsea players, while Thibaut Courtois is due in Madrid for his Real medical this morning.

Chelsea confirmed the Courtois and Kovacic deals in a statement that read: "Chelsea and Real Madrid have tonight agreed terms for the permanent transfer of Thibaut Courtois subject to the agreement of personal terms and passing a medical. Subject to the completion of the deal, Mateo Kovacic will join the Blues on a season-long loan."

The sale of Courtois will earn Chelsea about £35m (€39m) and they must now make decisions on the futures of a number of other players, including Tiemoue Bakayoko, Michy Batshuayi, Kurt Zouma and Danny Drinkwater.

The most pressing of those are Zouma and Drinkwater, who have attracted interest from Premier League clubs, so would need to move before today's 5.0pm deadline.

Everton have looked at a loan move for Zouma, who spent last season at Stoke City and had his Chelsea squad number taken by Jorginho this summer, and the France international is attracted by the prospect of moving to Goodison Park.

Drinkwater has been looked at by a number of Premier League clubs, including West Ham United, Crystal Palace and his former club Leicester City, and it is expected he will be the subject of interest in the final hours of the transfer window.

But Chelsea had been demanding a loan fee of about £10m (€11m) and his high wages could also be a problem.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri may also want to keep Drinkwater as part of his squad, with Bakayoko set to join AC Milan on a season-long loan, although the Italians have until the end of August to complete a deal.

Bakayoko's brother, who also acts as his agent, met with Milan directors Leonardo and Paolo Maldini in Italy yesterday and a move - that could include an option to buy next summer - is expected to take place.

The midfielder had been willing to stay and fight for his place, while he is also rated by Chelsea officials. But it has become clear in recent weeks that Bakayoko will not feature much under Sarri.

Another player who fears he will spend too much time on the bench if he stays at Stamford Bridge is striker Batshuayi, who is wanted on loan by Spanish club Valencia.

With Alvaro Morata staying and Olivier Giroud not interested in a move to Marseille, Chelsea are likely to have to loan out Batshuayi or Tammy Abraham.

Batshuayi will push to move to Valencia unless he is given an indication he will not play understudy to Morata, but France World Cup winner Giroud is content to fight for his place.

"I am happy here at Chelsea," said Giroud, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Arsenal for £18m in January on an 18-month contract.

"I just arrived a few months ago and am just starting to settle well. I think we did a good end to the season even if we didn't finish in the top four.

"We are hoping to have a great season for the fans and I'm looking forward to the first game.

"I still have one year to go with Chelsea plus maybe another one. I'm going to discuss that with the club at the right time. There is no rush. I just need to prepare well and be ready as soon as possible for the team. That's the most important thing right now."

Another player willing to compete for a starting spot is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace but is desperate for a chance to impress at Chelsea.

"At the moment, I am at Chelsea, my mind is on playing well here and improving here," said 22-year-old Loftus-Cheek.

"I will always do my best, whoever is the manager. I will play well for myself and improve myself.

"Whoever the manager is, it doesn't change how I want to play. I will always do my best and that's just my mindset to improve myself.

"However that comes across to the manager is what it is. I look to play well for myself first.

"I think that the young boys have been doing really well. I don't think the young boys will be handed chances just like that, you have to do well in training, you have to keep pushing so we will do that and see where we get to this season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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