Sunday 25 February 2018

Chelsea target Cedric Soares as they aim to make three more signings this month

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Jason Burt

Chelsea have turned their attentions to Southampton’s Cedric Soares as they attempt to sign at least three new players before the transfer window closes.

One of those is unlikely, still, to be Alex Sandro with Chelsea again rebuffed in their latest attempts to sign him from Juventus despite understanding that the Brazilian is keen on a move. Another bid is expected by Chelsea.

Cedric and Alex Sandro would add further options to the Chelsea squad in the wide positions and provide competition for Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, and also to allow head coach Antonio Conte to switch formations.

Chelsea are not only interested in Cedric, though, for their right-flank with Serge Aurier having been told he is up for sale by Paris Saint-Germain and needing to make a fresh start to revitalise his career. An interest has also been registered in Valencia’s Joao Cancelo.

More ambitiously Chelsea are also still interested in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has gone into his final year of contract at Arsenal, but have been told, so far, that Arsene Wenger will not sell the England international.

Another move for Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater is also expected by Chelsea, who continue to monitor what will happen with Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk, as they run through their options to improve their squad before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.

Conte is, meanwhile, pushing Chelsea to sign players he knows from Italy – he likes Inter Milan’s Antonio Candreva, for example – but, at 30, the Italian international does not necessarily fit the profile of player his club wants to sign.

Cedric does fit that profile. The 25-year-old Portuguese international has been under consideration by Chelsea for some time as is regarded as an ideal addition to their squad.

Cedric would also appear to be cheaper than other options and while Chelsea have not made a formal bid, as yet, it is unlikely that they would be offering more than £15m-£20m for the defender who was signed from Sporting in 2015 for £4.7m on a four-year deal. He agreed a new contract last year taking him to 2020.

Cedric has performed well at Southampton and was part of the Portugal squad that won Euro 2016 and has been linked with a move, also, to Barcelona. It remains to be seen whether Southampton, who still have to resolve Van Dijk’s future of after he submitted a transfer request, would countenance selling the player.

Conte has complained vociferously about how thin his squad is despite signing Alvaro Morata for a club record fee that could rise to £70m, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger. However, Chelsea have lost Nemanja Matic and John Terry while Diego Costa remains in exile as he pushes for a move back to Atletico Madrid. Conte has also sent a number of potential first-team squad players out on loan, while Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah have been sold.

There was some good news for Chelsea with Eden Hazard returning to training on Tuesday for the first time since breaking his ankle while on international duty with Belgium in June. However, Hazard may still be some way off a return to first-team action according to Conte. Bakayoko, who is recovering from knee surgery, also took part in the session although Pedro sat it out as he recovers from his own ankle problem ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture away to Tottenham Hotspur.

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