Chelsea Edge Closer to Managerial Decision as Top Target Grows Confident of Imminent Offer

Former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri is confident that he will be offered a two-year contract by Chelsea in the near future amid constant rumours of his imminent appointment at Stamford Bridge.

The 59-year-old has been replaced at the Stadio San Paolo by former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti, with Napoli eager to appoint Sarri’s successor as soon as possible. 

But Chelsea will still have to spend close to £7m to activate the release clause in his current contract if they want Sarri to succeed Antonio Conte in west London.

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A report from the Telegraph claims that Sarri is putting pressure on Chelsea in an attempt to force the Premier League side into making a decision over their next manager, and the former Empoli boss is confident that he will be the one to take over this summer.

The report continues to explain how Napoli are also softening on their demand that Sarri’s £7m release clause is met – something which is likely linked to their appointment of Ancelotti.

It is claimed that the Italian side would be willing to part ways with their manager if Chelsea defender David Luiz moves the other way as part of the deal.

Luiz has struggled for game time this season and many expect the Brazil international to leave the club this summer, as opposed to the 30-year-old going on a free transfer in 2019.

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Chelsea Outcast Linked With Bundesliga Switch Amid Interest From Premier League Rivals

German side RB Leipzig are planning a move for Chelsea star Kenedy this summer as the Red Bulls eye a long-term replacement for their departing playmaker Emil Forsberg.

The Brazilian winger spent the second half of the 2017/18 season on loan with Newcastle United, and the 22-year-old’s involvement in four goals with the Magpies caught the attention of Arsenal ahead of the summer transfer window, as well as European powerhouses Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

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And Goal claim that Germany’s most hated football club RB Leipzig are the latest side to announce their interest in Kenedy this summer, linking their pursuit with the all but confirmed exit of Forsberg.

The Sweden international appeared to say goodbye to fans towards the end of the season when a red card cut his campaign short, posting a somewhat cryptic message on social media following his dismissal against Hoffenheim in April.

Forsberg has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, most recently with Arsenal. And it appears that Leipzig will look to find their replacement from England this summer, with Kenedy emerging as one of their top priorities this summer.

The Red Bulls have dealt with clubs from the Premier League in recent years, with the likes of Ademola Lookman (Everton) and Péter Gulácsi (Liverpool) moving to Saxony in short-term or permanent transfers – although the latter was via Leipzig’s sister club in Salzburg.

But interest from some of Euorpe’s more sizeable clubs, coupled with the recent departure of well respected manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, could make a move for Kenedy difficult for RB Leipzig this summer.

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Floundering Forwards: Analysing How 3 of Last Summer’s Biggest Striker Signings Have Fared in the PL

At the start of the 2017/18 Premier League season Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United fans debated about which team’s striker was going to perform the best over the season. 

Unfortunately, all three of them have left a lot to be desired this season. A general lack of goals due to poor quality finishing has meant none of these strikers have broken the 20 goal barrier in the Premier League this season. 

But which player succeeded in new surroundings this season? And who struggled?

3. Alvaro Morata – 5/10

Filling the shoes of the controversial Diego Costa was always going to be a difficult task. His aggression and determination made him a nightmare for Premier League defenders who were surely happy to see the back of him. 

Alvaro Morata seemed like he would be a decent replacement after Chelsea failed to sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton last summer. Morata is similar in height to Costa, and although he is a bit quicker he has failed to impose himself on defenders like his predecessor. 

At times this season Morata’s finishing has simply been appalling and he has registered the fewest Premier League goals of the three strikers in this list with just 11. In his defence he has six assists this season which is two more than Lacazette but his key misses against Burnley and Arsenal this season have stuck in the memory. 

His movement is very good but he needs to work on his finishing. It is never okay for a top-level striker to be so consistently bad at one-on-ones. Whilst his knack for heading in Cesar Azpilicueta’s fabulous crosses should not go unnoticed, Olivier Giroud is arguably better than Morata in the air so he needs to add more to his game in order to justify his position as a starter. 

Like Lacazette, it his his first season in the Premier League and it can be tough to adjust to the pace and physicality of the League.

He will be given another chance to lead the line at Chelsea next season due to his age and the fact that he cost £58m (£70m with add-ons). But there are also rumours linking him to Juventus.

2. Alexandre Lacazette – 6/10

Coming in from Lyon at the start of the season many had hoped that Alexandre Lacazette would solve Arsenal’s striker problem. He was expected to bring his pace and ability to get in behind to the Gunners, thereby making the most of the skills of Mesut Ozil. Something that the immobile Olivier Giroud was unable to do.

Many were excited when Arsenal signed Lacazette but he has been quite underwhelming. While he should’t be blamed too much, as it his first season in the Premier League and he played for a rather poor Arsenal team that were atrocious away from home, he has been ineffectual at times this season. Moreover, his first touch has been poor on too many occasions, causing him to lose possession in key areas. 

He got off to a decent start, scoring with nearly his first touch of the season against Leicester City. This was followed up with goals in his next two home appearances in the league. 

Unfortunately, as time went on Lacazette’s early season form began to disappear. He went on a severe goal drought that saw many Arsenal fans lose faith in him. His general play during the drought was decent as he was involved in Arsenal’s linkup play and ended the season with 14 goals and four assists following a resurgence towards the end of the season.

Ultimately, a striker’s job is to score goals and his four league assists do not vindicate his lack of goals. To make matters worse, the departure of Alexis Sanchez led Arsene Wenger to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who many feel is a better striker than Lacazette.

This hasn’t been a total disaster for Lacazette due to the fact that Aubameyang has been cup-tied for this season’s Europa League, having appeared in the competition for Borussia Dortmund. Next season, however, we can probably expect the main man up front to be Aubameyang unless the next Arsenal manager makes the unfortunate decision to play him on the wing to allow Lacazette to remain in the centre.

No matter what happens, it will be interesting to see how the two men play together next season

1. Romelu Lukaku – 7/10

Sure, Lukaku has scored a lot more goals than Lacazette and Morata in all competitions. Lukaku raked in 30 goals, which is by no means a poor return. Unfortunately, only 16 of those have come in the league which means that he has only scored two more goals than a struggling Lacazette. To make matters worse, he has played 2869 minutes of league football, much more than the 2212 played by Lacazette, and the 2067 minutes played by Morata. 

Obviously 16 goals is not horrendous, especially when you acknowledge the fact that he plays in a very defensive system under Jose Mourinho, but Lukaku is the only one of the three strikers that has had the benefit of playing in the Premier League before this season. 

Last season he managed 25 league goals for an Everton side that relied heavily on him for goals and he was expected to maintain those numbers after moving to a Manchester United side that boasted superior players. 

He has continued to receive some criticism for disappearing in big games this season – a trait that plagued him when he was at Everton – but he has scored some important goals. In the Old Trafford game against Chelsea he scored once and assisted Jesse Lingard’s winner, showing that he is capable of coming up with the goods in the big games. He has also chipped in with seven assists – the most of the three new strikers. 

Lukaku, like Morata and Lacazette will be given a chance again next season and we cannot wait to see how they all perform now that they have had time to adjust to their new clubs.

A discussion on Lacazette, Lukaku and Morata’s performances this season. The new Exciting Premier League Strikers

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Maurizio Sarri Plans Raid on Former Club Napoli After Reportedly Agreeing Two-Year Deal at Chelsea

??Chelsea have reportedly agreed terms with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, who is set to be appointed the club’s new manager at the expense of Antonio Conte.

Wednesday night saw Sarri relieved of his duties at Napoli, with the Partenopei replacing him with former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti. The changing of the guard in the south of Italy means that Sarri’s suitors Chelsea no longer have to pay the £7m contract release fee that kept him tied down in Naples, and were free to discuss a deal with his representatives – which is believed to have occurred on Thursday.

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And now, according to a report published by La Repubblica, the two parties have reached an agreement – taking Chelsea one step closer to officially appointing Sarri as the club’s new head coach. 

Chelsea will, however, be forced to dish out a reported £9m to current boss Conte if they are to fire him, but once that is done, Sarri will put pen to paper on a two-year deal, which will see him earn €6m per year.

In addition, according to the Evening Standard, Sarri plans a raid on the star assets of his former club. Sarri wants right back Elseid Hysaj (£44m), midfielder Piotr Zielinski (£57m) and 32-year-old defender Raul Albiol (£5.2m) should he move to Stamford Bridge.

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He will also recommend the club sign long term target Kalidou Koulibaly and midfielder Jorginho; though these two players aren’t quite so straight forward to sign, ?especially with the latter likely bound for Premier League champions Manchester City.

With the relationship between Sarri and Napoli chairman Aurelio di Laurentiis currently rather strained, these signings may be quite tricky to push over the line, especially considering Carlo Ancelotti wants to keep as many as he can.

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