Liverpool’s record-breaking offer for AS Roma goalkeeper Alisson is likely to have direct ramifications for Chelsea’s transfer strategy this summer, as the club step up their attempts to sign a goalkeeper ahead of the start of the new season.
On Tuesday Liverpool made a structured offer in excess of £60m for the Brazil number one, exceeding the current world-record fee for a goalkeeper and reigniting a campaign to sign the player that had appeared to have fizzled out.
Liverpool have been buoyed by Real Madrid appearing to end their interest in the 25-year-old, as the Champions League winners switch their focus to Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois, who has repeatedly talked about how he would like to move back to Madrid in order to be close to his children and has allowed his contract to tick down into its final 12 months.
Overseas clubs can make pre-contract offers to Courtois from January and sign him on a Bosman in what would almost certainly be the largest contract ever handed out to a goalkeeper, and while Chelsea have tried to extend his deal they would need to sell him this summer to avoid losing him for free.
Courtois’ growing desire to return to Madrid – the Belgian spent three seasons playing on loan for Atlético Madrid when he first signed for the club – leaves Chelsea with a choice. Either enter the race for Alisson and attempt to hijack Liverpool’s meticulously well-prepared bid. Or cast their net wider in the search for a new number one.
A number of Italian media outlets have claimed that Chelsea are more committed to the former solution, with The Mirror this morning reporting that an offer exceeding £70m is currently being prepared. The Sun has a similar line: with the newspaper claiming that the club hope to use their Brazilian players to influence Alisson to push for a move to London.
But Alisson is not the only goalkeeper Chelsea have been linked with. In an extraordinary development, Sky Sports claims that Arsenal have offered Petr Cech back to Chelsea, with the 36-year-old deemed surplus to requirements by new manager Unai Emery following the arrival of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen.
The club have also been linked with Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who is reportedly viewed as more of a long-term option given that he is five years younger than 36-year-old Cech. Sky report that Chelsea have already made contact with Leicester, although whether the 2015/16 Premier League champions will want to sell another first-team player so soon after Riyad Mahrez’s move to Manchester City remains to be seen.
There is meanwhile another Chelsea player wrapped up in the Alisson transfer saga. Eden Hazard expressed a desire to leave Chelsea in the wake of Belgium's third-place finish at the World Cup – a tournament in which he was among the best players – although the playmaker has little leverage and would need Chelsea to play ball in order for him to leave.
Real Madrid are however increasingly confident of signing the Belgian to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, with Marca claiming that the player’s representatives have already been in contact with executives at the Santiago Bernabéu. Any move would net Chelsea in excess of £100m, with CSKA Moscow forward Aleksandr Golovin one potential replacement. Chelsea have held initial talks with the 22-year-old over a move to Stamford Bridge, but Monaco are also keen on the playmaker and have tabled a formal offer.
Finally, the Evening Standard report that a deal to bring Juventus defender Daniele Rugani to the club is increasingly close, with the 23-year-old set to cost in the region of £45m. His arrival would however spell the end of Gary Cahill’s time at the club. Cahill has enjoyed six trophy-laden seasons at the Bridge but, unnerved by a lack of playing time for club and country, is understood to favour a move away in order to revive his career.
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