Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Chelsea duo alter Gvardiol stance with other positions prioritised

Chelsea look unlikely to make a move for RB Leipzig’s in-demand defender Josko Gvardiol and have other transfer priorities in the summer, according to reports.

They tried to prise the Croatia international away from the Bundesliga club last summer, though he decided to sign a contract extension and has expressed his intention to remain in Germany for at least one more campaign.

That new contract included a release clause of £97m – though it does not become active until the summer of 2024 – and that will likely be a guideline price for any interested teams this summer.

Manchester City, Real Madrid, Tottenham and others are all keen to sign the 21-year-old, who is regarded as the best young defender in world football.

Chelsea were expected to return with a new approach of their own, having come close to securing an £80m deal last summer only for the deal to collapse.

But, The Athletic claim that the situation has changed quite significantly since then and Chelsea are no longer so keen to splash the cash on Gvardiol.

The west London club decided to bring in Benoit Badiashile in the January window and he has impressed Chelsea’s coaching staff.

Like Gvardiol, the Frenchman is 21 years old and is also a ball-playing, left-footed centre-back.

Chelsea are wary of stunting the defender’s development by bringing in a more expensive player at the same stage of his career, and given how left-footed they both are there would be question marks over how they could operate alongside each other – particularly in a back four.

Levi Colwill, who is younger at 20 years old, is also playing a factor in Chelsea’s thinking and the Brighton loanee is part of the club’s long-term plans.

As things stand – and despite Koulibaly’s struggles – Chelsea feel they are well stocked at centre-back, particularly left-sided ones, and are prioritising other areas of the pitch.

Top of their wish list for the summer is a new, top striker – with the team having struggled for goals under Graham Potter – as well as a goalkeeper and another midfielder.

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