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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Chelsea Round-Up: Join race for La Liga playmaker, Interest in French youngster, French defender on West Ham radar

Chelsea enter the battle to sign €40m-rated Norway international Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly set to join Arsenal in pursuit of Rea...

Chelsea enter the battle to sign €40m-rated Norway international Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly set to join Arsenal in pursuit of Real Madrid attacker Martin Odegaard, valued at nearly €50m. Norway international could indeed be an interesting, more in-form alternative for Saul Niguez. Liverpool have been recently linked with a €50m move for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, but Martin represents better long-term value, whereas Niguez has endured a steady decline over the past couple of years.

The Blues, too, could be a fascinating destination for the Norwegian playmaker as he can directly replace Hakim Ziyech. Morocco international has been linked with an exit after struggling to adapt to life under the German boss. However, it is the Gunners who are in pole position to secure the services of the Norwegian attacker.

 Odegaard is already quite familiar with the Spanish manager’s tactical setup. The Gunners can also guarantee him regular playing time, as they look to create a new core in the front-line next campaign. It stays to be seen whether the Gunners’ lack of participation in European football makes Arsenal an unappealing destination for the Norwegian playmaker. But Odegaard certainly has what it takes to become the perfect long-term successor for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.

Although his tally of one goal and two assists are not particularly eye-catching, his overall contributions were far greater. Unfortunately, Martin Odegaard’s progress at the London club was halted by a few fitness problems during the final couple of months. But that has not deterred the Reds from eyeing a surprise summer swoop.

               Lucas Gourna-Douath

 Chelsea renewed interest in 17-year-old Ligue 1 midfielder The London giants are among many teams that are interested and have made an approach for Saint-Etienne starlet Lucas Gourna-Douath. U19 France international signed for the French club youth setup from the Torcy academy in 2018 and has made rapid strides within the team. Indeed Lucas broke into Saint-Etienne’s B team in September 2019 aged only 16 and earned his first-team debut for the club in September last year when he was just 17 years old. Since then, there has been no looking back for Lucas, who became a regular feature in the middle of the park for  French club, racking up 30 games in his maiden season. 

Gourna-Douath has also represented the France national team across various age-group levels. The 17-year-old midfielder’s swift rise to prominence in Ligue 1 has not gone without notice, with the Blues among a number of top teams showing an interest in the Frenchman’s services.

Chelsea’s interest in the French midfielder is not now, with the Blues having been keeping tabs on him for quite a while now. The London club boast a solid midfield unit led by the trio of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic with Ruben Loftus-Cheek for cover while the talented duo of Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour will also be options next year when they come back from their loan spells. However, it must not be lost on the German coach that both Kante and Jorginho are not getting any younger. Furthermore, the French midfielder had to deal with quite a few injury issues over the past year or so. 

                       Kurt Zouma

 West Ham United in pole position for £40,000-a-week Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma’s preference is to stay within the PL.

 To that end, the 26-year-old centre-back has made it clear that he does not wish to be a part of the deal to sign Jules Kounde from Sevilla to Stamford Bridge, and will instead be joining the Hammers instead.

 Zouma joined the Blues from Saint-Etienne in winter 2014 and after a short-term loan spell back in Ligue 1, Kurt arrived at Chelsea rated as one of the best young centre-backs in Europe. Zouma initially made promising progress at Chelsea before his development was hampered by a long-term knee injury. 

 However, since making his come back from the fitness issue, Kurt has not been on a similar upward trajectory, struggling while on loan at Stoke City while failing to nail down a spot at Stamford Bridge. To date, the French centre-back has played 150 games for Chelsea, chipping in with ten goals and six assists. In this transfer window, though, the French defender has faced an uncertain future at Chelsea, with the Hammers his likely destination.

 Kurt was also initially linked with Tottenham and Everton, with recent reports also claiming that the Blues wanted to include him in the deal to land Jules Kounde from Sevilla.
However, Zouma does not wish to depart the PL, which has since given the Hammers the impetus to make a move for him. The interest from the Hammers makes a lot of sense, considering they need to make quality additions to sustain their position inside the top half of the PL table.

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