BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea’s pursuit of Kai Havertz has ramped up this week with the Blues and Bayer Leverkusen closing in on a deal.
Havertz, 21, who scored in the German side’s 2-1 Europa Cup defeat to Inter Milan on Monday, will discuss personal terms once the clubs have set a transfer fee.
Chelsea are trying to get the wonderkid for a cut-price £35million, citing a depressed transfer market due to Covid-19, while Leverkusen are suggesting that they don’t need to sell the striker and would only consider an offer in excess of £50million.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have already signed two attacking players in former Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, 26, and RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner, 24. While Ziyech’s transfer fee is undisclosed, Werner’s was £47.5million – the release clause in his contract.
But the Blues will have to sell and trim their wage bill in order to fund the moves which are expected to include a centre-back and a goalkeeper.
Off the wage bill already are Willian and Pedro, whose contracts ended in July. They are off to Arsenal and Roma respectively
Out on loan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko will have to return to Chelsea after AS Monaco decided against exercising the option to make his transfer permanent.
The 24-year-old wants to return to AC Milan where he was first out on loan, and Chelsea will offload him to whoever is willing to pay close to the £40m they paid Monaco in July 2017.
The Frenchman said: “Everyone knows that Milan is in my heart and I have good memories. At the moment, I’m a Chelsea player, then we’ll see in football.”
Chelsea are keen to get rid of Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, who has fallen even further down the pecking order under Frank Lampard.
Newcastle and Crystal Palace are keeping their ears cocked in the hope of landing the striker for a bargain price – Chelsea won’t get close to the £33m they paid Marseille in 2016.
Other players who the Blues are keen to move on are Danny Drinkwater, Matt Miazga, Davide Zappacosta, Baba Rahman and Kenedy – all five were farmed out on loan last term and Chelsea will listen to reasonable offers for them.
Chelsea Women have been back in training for the past couple of weeks – preparing for the new WSL1 season which starts on the weekend of September 5.
The reigning champions will start the defence of their title with a match at Manchester United and follow that up with a home game, at Kingsmeadow against Bristol City a week later. All matches will be behind closed doors with no fans allowed in.
The Blues will travel to Walton Hall Park, Liverpool to take on Everton in the FA Cup quarter-final on September 26.
Fran Kirby, who missed most of last season recovering from a lung condition, is keen to get back in the action.
Having already played a 90-minute friendly match at Cobham, the England striker said she’s itching to play again.
She said of the prospect of facing United: “We’re really looking forward to the first fixture – it starts the new season and it’s one that we’re all desperate to play in.
“Starting off against Manchester United is really exciting for us.
“It was a good game at our home last year so we need to make sure we’re ready to go from the first whistle.
“We’ve been working really hard so far in the pre-season, and now we have the fixtures, I’m sure the intensity is only going to get higher and higher.”
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