Tuesday 18 December 2018

Chelsea working to complete deal for Roma duo Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri

Edin Dzeko
Edin Dzeko

Matt Law

Chelsea are working to complete a deal to sign Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri from Roma, but have been given a fright over the future of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The Blues are ready to pay around £44million to take both striker Dzeko and left-back Palmieri, as the club look to boost head coach Antonio Conte’s squad.

Palmieri has already agreed to join Chelsea, subject to a medical, and personal terms will now be discussed with the agent of 31-year-old Dzeko in London.

One obstacle for Chelsea to overcome will be the length of contract they offer to Dzeko. Club policy usually dictates that incoming players, or players currently in the squad, aged 30 or over are only offered one-year deals.

Dzeko’s Roma contract is due to run to 2020 and it would unusual for a player to join a club on a shorter deal with no guarantees over an extension.

Handing Dzeko any more than 18 months could well cause Chelsea an issue with some of their existing players. David Luiz, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas will all have a year left to run on their contracts at the end of the season, and would all like more than one-year extensions.

Dzeko is also believed to want guarantees over getting enough playing time at Stamford Bridge, but even though he will be ineligible for the Champions League, that should not be a problem.

Chelsea are still in all three domestic competitions and, particularly with Alvaro Morata struggling for form and confidence, it is expected Dzeko would come in to play regularly.

He has scored 14 goals this season, including two against Chelsea in the Champions League, although only two of those have come in his last 17 appearances. Out-of-form Morata has netted five times over the same number of matches.

Conte has wanted a target man to compliment and challenge Morata, and Dzeko certainly fits the bill. His four-and-a-half seasons at Manchester City should also ensure he does not require an adjustment period to English football.

Palmieri is initially joining as a back-up to left wing-back Marcos Alonso and his arrival will finally allow Kenedy to complete a loan move to Newcastle United.

Chelsea decided against a new move for Alex Sandro after learning that Juventus still wanted around £60m to sell the Brazilian this month.

A double deal for Dzeko and Palmieri was made easier by the fact Roma, who Chelsea signed Antonio Rudiger from last summer, need to raise funds to meet Financial Fair Play requirements.

Roma director of football Monchi hinted the Italians are planning for life without Palmieri and Dzeko by saying: “Whatever will be will be. I work every day to have players suitable to replace our players, my job is always to strengthen my club. If [Dzeko] leaves Roma, we'll buy another player.”

Chelsea had expected Courtois to sign a new contract this month after offering him a deal that would make him the highest paid goalkeeper in the world.

Talks had been going well with negotiations entering the final phase and Courtois suggesting that he was ready to sign.

But Real Madrid are understood to have reiterated their long-standing interest in Courtois after missing out on Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Arrizabalaga had been expected to join Real this month, but the fact he has signed a new Bilbao deal means the La Liga giants are still on the lookout for a new goalkeeper.

Chelsea still hope they can finalise a new contract with Courtois before the end of the season, but must now nervously wait to see whether or not Real attempt to ruin their negotiations.

Courtois is fit to face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final second-leg at the Emirates after missing the Premier League victory over Brighton with a sprained ankle.

Conte faces a selection dilemma up front with Morata available again, but Chelsea impressing with Michy Batshuayi, Eden Hazard and Willian impressing in forward positions at the weekend.


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