As possibly the most sought after full-back in Britain, Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell is certainly hot property.
He’s been on Frank Lampard and Chelsea’s radar all season, with a string of consistent performances for the Foxes this season helping to fire Brendan Rodgers’ side into surprise Champions League contention.
He’s also first choice for Gareth Southgate in England’s national team setup, a clear indication of his capabilities.
Talk of a move to Chelsea has been bubbling away under the surface since August, when it was ?first reported that Chilwell was a target. 90min then learned in October that Lampard’s side were indeed looking at replacing Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri, with the Leicester man one of a number of options.
That talk has continued over the past few months, intensifying further after Cesar Azpilicueta was switched to left-back in order to accommodate up and coming youngster Reece James. Now, though, Chelsea have decisions to make and it seems they are confident that a Chilwell deal can be agreed.
But ?Goal report that Leicester’s valuation – which could reach as much as £80m – could be a major stumbling block, even though Lampard would prefer to sign the Englishman over FC Porto’s Alex Telles and Barcelona’s Marc Cucurella, who are also on the club’s shortlist.
There is said to be hesitation over pursuing a deal for Telles, even though he has a release clause of £36m written into his contract, because of an underwhelming spell at Inter five years ago. Cucurella, meanwhile, has stood out for Getafe this season, and he could be available for slightly less – around £25m or so.
Were ?Barcelona to sell, though, the Catalan giants will probably insert a buy-back clause into the deal, which is common practice whenever a player with some potential leaves La Liga’s top brass.
If Chelsea do go after Chilwell, they will need to pay big. ?Leicester have proven before that they won’t be bullied in the transfer market, evidenced by the £80m sale of Harry Maguire to Manchester United last summer.
And given Chilwell has four years left on his King Power Stadium deal, there’s little to suggest they’ll be willing to accept a fee that’s not in that ball park.
What is clear is that Chelsea need to bring somebody in. Marcos Alonso is a long-term target for Antonio Conte’s Inter, while Emerson is thought to be of interest to Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus – both are former Blues bosses.
Current head coach Lampard’s tinkering of his system and reluctance to play either on a regular basis suggests he’s aware of the need to strengthen, and in Chilwell, he could snare a defender who is likely to get better as he’s only 23.