Chelsea have identified three world-class midfielders to replace released club legend Frank Lampard: Atletico Madrid star Koke, Juventus youngster Paul Pogba and Barcelona ace Cesc Fabregas. All three players, however, are on the radar of a host of top European clubs and will command huge transfer fees.
The London Evening Standard report that Chelsea have freed up £400,000-a-week from their wage bill by allowing Lampard, Ashley Cole and PSG-bound David Luiz to leave Stamford Bridge. This means the Blues will be able to offer either Koke, Pogba or Fabregas the best possible wages to lure them to west London.
Reports in Spain claim Chelsea are on the brink of signing Fabregas as Lampard’s replacement. However, the Blues’ £32m offer is £2m short of Manchester United’s bid, and there could be some way to go before the Spain international puts pen-to-paper with the London outfit - even though the World Cup winner reportedly underwent a medical at Stamford Bridge last week and has been offered a four-year deal worth €10m-a-season.
Mourinho is also a big fan of Koke, who played a pivotal role in Atletico’s triumphant 2013/14 La Liga campaign. But Chelsea are set to miss out on the 22-year-old, with Barcelona keen to sign him as Fabregas’s replacement. The Spanish midfielder, though, is believed to be content at the Vicente Calderon.
Pogba, meanwhile, would be the most expensive player of the trio. The former Manchester United ace, who has cemented his status as the best young midfielder in European football over the last two seasons and is believed to be a summer target for the Red Devils, would cost in the region of £65m to sign from Juventus this summer.
Fabregas currently looks the most likely of the three players to replace Chelsea’s all-time top scorer from the start of next season, but the situation could change over the coming days and weeks.