Chelsea have identified three key areas to work on in the next two transfer windows and are increasingly interested in a move for Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.
They are currently running in-depth scouting on the 21-year-old, including analysing his attitude and personal life, ahead of a possible bid in the summer transfer window.
However, they are also keen on West Ham’s Declan Rice and likely will not sign both midfielders due to Thomas Tuchel’s support for integrating Conor Gallagher – currently on loan at Crystal Palace – into the squad.
What transfers could happen in January?
With midfielders and centre-backs seen as longer-term issues, the Blues are more concerned in the short term about their wing-back situation.
As first revealed by GOAL, Ben Chilwell has had surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Reece James is out for at least five more weeks, leaving Tuchel looking to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic to fill in in the interim.
Everton’s Lucas Digne is an option for Chelsea, but they are first attempting to recall Emerson Palmieri from his loan with Lyon.
Tuchel prefers Emerson, having coached him last season, and been impressed with his attitude, application and ability.
There is no simple way to end his loan, however, due to terms in the contract favouring the Ligue 1 club.
If Chelsea fail to recall Emerson, a loan signing could be sanctioned instead. Similarly, on the right-hand side, the Blues are looking at their options, with Blackpool loanee Dujon Sterling available to be recalled until January 14.
They have also explored the option of a new signing. Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier has been considered on loan, but Newcastle believe they have won the race to sign him as they close in on a permanent deal.
The incident has been described as a “distraction” for transfer and contract-related activity as Marina Granovskaia, the club’s director and transfer chief, spent time dealing with it over the last few days.
What about Chelsea signing centre-backs?
Chelsea have long felt they need to consider the central defender position, aware that they had several contracts expiring this summer.
Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are all able to talk to other clubs over a free transfer, with their deals now in their last six months.
Still, there’s growing positivity in the cases of Rudiger and Azpilicueta, who both had a renewed round of talks with the west Londoners on Monday afternoon.
Furthermore, all three players have agreed to give the Blues more time to renew their contracts, but want some compromise on terms.
Firstly, Rudiger still wants to be put among the top earners at Stamford Bridge to acknowledge his emergence as a dressing room leader and important first team star.
Real Madrid had been pushing strongly to sign the German, but have grown frustrated at his choice to delay his decision in order to talk things over with his current club.
That has seen reports in Spain insist Madrid have left the race to sign him, although GOAL believes the Liga giants will continue to monitor the situation.
Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are also contenders for his signature, with Juventus unlikely to offer him the terms he wants.
Christensen, meanwhile, remains keen to remain in west London despite being publicly criticised by Thomas Tuchel, which was subsequently published on the club’s website.
The Blues have been frustrated with the talks they have had with the Denmark international, having expected them to have long since been wrapped up.
Yet, the situation remains similar to Rudiger in that he would sign if the club got closer to his demands.
Like Christensen, Azpilicueta is of interest to Barcelona, with Atletico Madrid also monitoring his situation.
The Blues captain’s situation relates more to the length of the contract and how valued he is in the squad, having increasingly found himself on the bench when all the club’s defenders are fit.
With all that going on, Chelsea are keeping their options open for new signings and the two main summer targets are Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana.
In addition, there’s the option to bring back wonderkid Levi Colwill. He could come in and compete for a first-team spot next season after earning rave reviews on loan at Huddersfield.
The youngster is having a season many behind the scenes are comparing to the one Reece James had at Wigan Athletic in his debut professional year.
Initially Colwill was expected to have two loans before having a chance of making it in west London, but there’s now a chance he could be fast-tracked next season.