Welcome to Dean Jones’ weekly transfer column…
Chelsea hopeful of sealing double swoop
Chelsea are increasingly hopeful they will get the signature of Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele – and the transfer would be a show of faith in boss Thomas Tuchel.
As part of plans under the new ownership at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel’s voice on transfer targets is to become more important than before.
And signing Dembele, who has scored 32 goals for Barcelona, would help Todd Boehly convince Tuchel of how crucial he remains to the club.
He was set as a prime target and seen as a man who would add dynamism to the attack next term. Tuchel is a huge admirer of the player and had an eye on the signing even before Dembele returned to full fitness in March.
It has been a tough couple of years for Dembele, 25, who missed almost 60 matches due to issues around hamstring and knee injuries.
Yet he has been working his way back convincingly and with his contract expiring in Spain on June 30, looks set to seek a fresh start. Paris Saint-Germain were viewed as the main contenders to sign him if he leaves Barca yet their new sporting advisor Luis Campos seems to have other ideas.
The signing of Dembele would be a promising sign for Tuchel that he has control over the club’s direction in the post-Roman Abramovich era.
Chelsea have intent to overhaul the squad this summer, with €80m (£68.5m) release clause man Jules Kounde still expected to join in defence and others to follow.
Tuchel is working hard over the summer to negotiate the changes needed and will apply extra caution when deciding on the future of young players – with an eye on next season’s Premier League changes set to have a big impact on squad management.
A new rule allowing five substitutions means depth will take on extra significance and there should be more chances than ever for fringe players to improve at the club. The calendar is also going to be different, with clubs worried about the mental and physical toll a December World Cup in Qatar might have on star players.
Conor Gallagher, Armando Broja, Levi Colwill and Billy Gilmour are among the players looking to make an impact on coach Thomas Tuchel this summer and all will be given opportunities in pre-season.
There is a feeling that Tuchel is being encouraged to test a 4-3-3 if Gallagher is to flourish along with Mason Mount, who could soon land a new improved contract.
The Blues know other sides at home and abroad have an eye on their young talent but Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Saul Niguez are leaving the club and there are also doubts over Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku.
It will prove tricky to replace all outgoing players with new signings so there is reason for last season’s loanees to hold hope.
Will Chelsea sign Robert Lewandowski?! Hear more on The Football Terrace..
Tottenham eye Bastoni alternatives
Tottenham are well prepared to deal with any snub from Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni as the club have been pursuing at least six other centre-backs already.
Josko Gvardiol, Pau Torres and Clement Lenglet were players close to the top of their shopping list but Spurs always knew these would be difficult to sign, for different reasons. Others under consideration have been Marc Guehi, Gleison Bremer and Stefan De Vrij.
This is the nature of Paratici, as Tottenham now have a transfer approach that sees them scope out various potential signings at the same time, and then narrow down the options.
Gvardiol would be the ideal next solution from Bastoni yet he is priced at £65million and as such, some sources expect Barcelona’s Lenglet to emerge as the most attainable option.
He is no longer wanted at the Spanish club, and a loan deal to Spurs is still being explored, yet his current wage at Barca would stretch Tottenham’s resources and has to be considered an obstacle.
Newcastle line up Dean Henderson alternatives
Newcastle United could turn to 6 ft 6 Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez as they weigh up new options for next season.
The club’s pursuit of Manchester United’s Dean Henderson has faded at a time when new sporting director Dan Ashworth has landed at the club.
Fresh eyes are now looking over solutions between the sticks and new-on-the-list Sanchez is highly regarded, along with Burnley’s Nick Pope.
Momentum around Hugo Ekitike’s move from Reims has also slowed in recent days yet there remains an expectation for the deal to be completed.
Luis Diaz played key role in Liverpool’s Nunez move
Liverpool’s success with Luis Diaz accelerated their interest in signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica.
The fact former FC Porto star Diaz made the step from Liga Nos to the Premier League with relative ease led to a feeling that Nunez has to be taken seriously as a transfer option too, given his profile and scoring rate in Portugal – he has 47 goals for his current employers.
Now Liverpool, who are having to contemplate the departure of Sadio Mane, believe the player could fit well and have been in touch with his agent Jorge Mendes.
However, they have been plotting other ideas too and Fabio Carvalho, who joined from Fulham this summer, is expected to get an opportunity in pre-season to push his way into the plans for the front line.
Christian Pulisic is being mooted as a target too, and his situation at Chelsea is certainly unclear. Conversations are needed to rectify how he is viewed as part of the current project and Jurgen Klopp is a long-term admirer.
Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal update
Arsenal’s chances of landing Gabriel Jesus could hinge on whether or not AC Milan come into the running for his signature.
Jesus has not yet made a decision on his future, with the idea of staying at Manchester City not even dismissed. But Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have become the latest sides to join the Gunners and Spurs with links to the Brazil international.
It is understood Milan have also been offered the player – and that Jesus would be tempted to make that transfer if they come forward with a good proposal.
Switching to Arsenal or Spurs will generally be seen as a climb down from City but joining last season’s Serie A winners is a more intriguing option.
Milan are on the lookout for a new wide forward for next season and the situation of Jesus is one that has been presented.
They have around £45million to spend on the position and other options explored so far include Nicolo Zaniolo, Noa Lang and Charles de Ketelaere. Jesus would fit their ambition like a dream – and it can be fulfilled at his current valuation.
Pep Guardiola is by no means pushing the 25-year-old forward towards the exit door, yet City will not stand in his way if he insists on leaving.
Striker Divock Origi is already joining Milan from Liverpool and while Jesus is not the exact profile Milan had been expected to sign for the role, his potential availability at a time when they intend to kick on domestically and in the Champions League is timely.
The club have had a limited budget in recent years but a takeover is leading to huge new investment – and a right sided attacker will now be the priority in terms of a big signing.
Midfielder Renato Sanches is on the verge of signing to replace Franck Kessie soon, along with defender Sven Botman – as long as they can fend off late interest from PSG. Now Milan’s top staff are weighing up that final slot – and if they do not move for Jesus it would be very good news for Arsenal.