Blues determined to max out transfer fee for wantaway keeper

Chelsea are trying to put in place a deal to replace wantaway keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

But selling clubs know this only too well and are holding out for a better deal.

This is not something Chelsea are unfamiliar with. But they were caught out big time when they failed to keep hold of Thibaut Courtois and did not have a ready-made replacement. Eventually they fished Kepa from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for £72million, a world record fee for a goalkeeper.

It’s not something they want to repeat.

Granted Kepa is only number two at the Bridge – having lost his place to Senegal stopper Edouard Mendy, but they still want to get as much cash as possible for the Spaniard.

Topping their bill for replacements is Gabriel Slonina.

They want the US goalkeeper as much for his marketability as for his footballing ability.

With the club now under American ownership, the 18-year-old is seen as a long-term option and could even be loaned back to home club Chicago FIre in the MLS. And it helps the club expand its branding in the lucrative US market having a home-grown player onboard.

In the interim, and as a direct replacement for Kepa, is Thomas Strakosha. The Albanian, 27, is a cheap free-transfer option who has left Lazio after playing 164 times for the Rome outfit.

Misfit striker Romelu Lukaku is still applying pressure on Chelsea and Inter Milan to sort out a transfer fee.

The Belgium international, who flopped once again at Stamford Bridge following his megabucks transfer last season from Inter, wants to return to Italy and both clubs want to sort a deal.

But like Kepa, Lukaku cost an exorbitant sum and new owner Todd Boethy will be watching the actions of director boss Marina Granovskaia keenly. It will be the first time he will see her in action when it comes to handling major transfer business.

It’s believed that Granovskaia – who was disgraced former owner Roman Abramovich’s right-hand woman at the club, wants to remain a director. Chairman Bruce Buck is also keen to continue his

But actions speak louder than words for Boethy and this transfer window will determine the future of both executives, who enjoyed unrivalled power at the club under Abramovich.

If that is successful, it will aid the war chest to get in replacements up top and in defence.

Everton’s Richarlison is hoping that by turning down Arsenal, it will prompt the Blues to mount an offer.

It’s understood the Brazilian forward would prefer a move to Chelsea.




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