Tuchel comments on Zouma's Chelsea future amid West Ham links
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Chelsea look set to end their long hunt for a world-class striker as Romelu Lukaku jets in to complete a club-record £98million move from Inter Milan. The Belgian striker is poised to undergo a medical ahead of securing his return to the club he first joined a decade ago.
The 28-year-old is expected to become Tuchel’s second summer signing following the arrival of Marcus Bettinelli on a free transfer from Fulham.
The Blues have set their sights on adding to their squad following their Champions League success last season.
Now Tuchel is lining up a challenge for the Premier League title and signing Lukaku is a big statement of intent.
But the spending may not be over yet. Indeed, it might be just be beginning as far as Thomas Tuchel is concerned.
The German does not appear to be entirely satisfied with his defensive options at his disposal, with doubts emerging over the future of Kurt Zouma.
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Several fringe players are expected to depart this summer, with Tammy Abraham likely to fetch £40m after Atalanta and Roma registered their interest in the 23-year-old.
And deals of that kind could be enough to replenish Tuchel’s transfer war chest as he looks to reshape his squad before the August 31 transfer deadline, with up to three new signings potentially arriving at Stamford Bridge.
It is no secret that Chelsea have jumped to the front of the queue to sign Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde after Manchester United cooled their interest.
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The 22-year-old, who can play at centre-back or as a full-back, impressed for Julen Lopetegui’s side last season and was selected by France for their Euro 2020 squad this summer.
The west London club have already seen one bid rejected after attempting a similar deal that saw Tottenham capture Bryan Gil, offering £30m up front with Zouma also included as part-exchange.
But Sevilla refused to entertain the offer and are looking for a figure closer to the highly-rated defender’s £61m release clause.
Kounde is understood to be keen on moving to London and some reports suggest he has already agreed personal terms on a five-year deal.
But without the clubs agreeing a fee, the France international could be denied his big-money move — and Tuchel his top target.
However, it is believed Chelsea will return with another bid in the region of £53m which could be enough to tempt the LaLiga outfit into a sale, with ABC Sevilla reporting Tuchel is “pushing” for the deal to be completed.
It was Frank Lampard’s pursuit of West Ham captain Declan Rice in 2020 that reportedly caused friction between himself and Marina Granovskaia.
But after performing exceptionally for the Hammers in the Premier League and playing an instrumental role in helping England reach the Euro 2020 final, Rice is hot property.
Chelsea are not alone in wanting to sign the 22-year-old, with Manchester United and Liverpool both heavily linked with the defensive midfielder in the current transfer window.
Tuchel may decide against making a move for the midfielder after seeing a vast improvement in Jorginho’s form under his guidance, as well as playing a key role for Italy at Euro 2020.
But signing Rice would fit the club’s strategy of recruiting exciting talent who still have room for improvement.
The only sticking point is West Ham’s reluctance to sell and manager David Moyes is adamant Rice won’t be leaving for anything less than £80m — and The Daily Mail suggest he has accepted he may have to wait 12 months for a move.
That was before Jack Grealish sealed his £100m move to Manchester City, which could convince the Hammers to increase his asking price even further to ward off interested parties.
But given how they went out all out to bring Lukaku back to the club, Chelsea can never be ruled out when it comes to spending such extortionate sums.
It would not be a marquee signing by any stretch, but Chelsea have reportedly targeted Villarreal full-back Alfonso Pedraza for a potential summer transfer.
Ben Chilwell has cemented his status as the Blues’ first-choice wing-back on the left flank in Tuchel’s 3-4-3 setup.
But the 47-year-old head coach remains somewhat unconvinced by Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri, who featured in bit-part roles last season.
It was claimed Chelsea wanted to include either of the full-backs in their swap deal for Kounde but Sevilla were not keen.
Inter Milan and Napoli have been tracking Emerson, 26, for some time while Alonso has been linked with a move back to Spain.
Should the pair decide to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, Caught Offside report it could open the door to a five for Spain international Pedraza, who is rated at £15m.
The full-back played a key role in the Spanish side’s Europa League triumph under Unai Emery last season, making 44 appearances in all competitions and scoring twice.
He could even face Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup later this month if they fail to sign him beforehand.
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