Chelsea are already preparing for life without Thiago Silva and the club are shortlisting some of the best young defensive talent in order to build for the future.
The 39-year-old is out of contract at the end of the campaign and TEAMtalk claims that he will finish his career in Brazil.
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Chelsea scouts have been across Europe recently and have compiled a shortlist for Mauricio Pochettino. One of the standout names is Sporting Lisbon’s Ousmane Diomande.
The 19-year-old is believed to have impressed scouts who watched him play for Cote d’Ivoire in their recent 1-1 draw against Morocco.
It was only his second international appearance, but he has also been superb for his club side this season, starting every match so far.
Sporting signed him in January from FC Midtjylland in a deal worth £7million and would be unlikely to do a deal just one year on from his deadline day arrival last winter.
But, Diomande has a release clause of £69m and Chelsea could be tempted to activate it as they are not alone in their pursuit of the central defender.
The desire from Pochettino to sign a top striker could prevent the Blues from spending big on a defensive option in the winter window, but Diomande is a realistic target for summer 2024.
According to reports, Chelsea may have to act fast because there will be plenty of suitors for his signature next summer; Arsenal and Bayern are both keen and have spoken with his agents at Prosport Global.
Sporting have Diomande signed to a contract until 2027 and would demand the release clause to sell him midway through a season which sees them sitting top of the Liga Portugal table, one point ahead of Benfica.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have proven themselves to be a club who can pull off blockbuster January deals with Enzo Fernandez and Mudryk serving as two recent examples.
The trajectory for Diomande is looking positive and he is now top of the list as a replacement for Silva.
It’s now likely the Brazilian star will be waving goodbye to Stamford Bridge after spending four years at the West London club, and looks set to return to Fluminense.