Monday 11 December 2017

Manchester United get the green light to sign chief transfer target, as Chelsea close in on Tiemoue Bakayoko

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

Kevin Palmer

Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, which looks set to allow Manchester United to sign Nemanja Matic.

Sources have told Independent.ie that Chelsea have agreed a €40m fee with Monaco for the 22-year-old Bakayoko, who is due in London in the coming days for a medical once his personal terms have been finalised.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte views Frenchman Bakayoko - who made more interceptions (84) in Ligue 1 and the Champions League combined than any other Monaco player last season - as the ideal midfield partner for N'Golo Kante, who carried a huge workload in the Chelsea midfield as they stormed to a comfortable Premier League title success last month.

Meanwhile, ESPN are reporting that Matic is expected to sign for United by the end of this week, as he looks set to be reunited with manager Jose Mourinho after what appeared to be a somewhat fraught relationship in their final few months together at Chelsea.

Mourinho famously substituted Matic after he had been thrown on as a second half substitute in a game against Southampton in October 2015, with the Serbian international naturally bemused by the turn of events.

It was one of many contentious decisions Mourinho made in the months before he was sacked as Chelsea manager, with his explanation for the decision offering little comfort to Matic at the time.

"It was not humiliating – I don’t do that to anyone in football or life. If I do, I do without any intention," he said of the decision to take off Matic in front of a bemused Stamford Bridge crowd.

"I like my players, I trust them and I know they are good players but some of them are in a difficult moment and Matic is one of them.

"He was not playing well, is not sharp defensively and is making mistakes with the ball, but his emotional stability is high. I have a fantastic relationship with the boy."

After that less than memorable experience, it would have been hard to imagine Matic being re-united with Mourinho at Old Trafford, but a £40m deal is believed to be under discussion between the Premier League rivals.

Matic started 30 Premier League games as Chelsea romped to the Premier League title last season, yet Chelsea manager Conte clearly feels he needs fresh faces in his midfield line-up.

The arrival of Matic at Old Trafford would appear to end suggestions that United are looking to sign Monaco full-back/holding midfielder Fabinho, who has been using media appearances to promote his hopes of a move to Old Trafford in recent days.

The Italian media have suggested United are 'close' to signing Fabinho, yet United insiders continue to insist no bid has been made for the player and he is not a transfer target.

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