Transfer news: Chelsea to raid Southampton
Chelsea may be heading for the Premier League title, but already the club appears to be planning to improve their squad yet further for next season. With eight matches to play, José Mourinho's men sit seven points clear of second-place Arsenal and have the benefit of a game in hand as they chase the club's first championship since 2010.
But the pain of defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16 will still linger prominently, with Mourinho desperate to become the first man to lift the European Cup with three different clubs as well as winning his first with the club he has said is closest to his heart.
Given that the quality of Chelsea's performances have also tailed off in the second half of the season, adding more depth to the squad is likely to be an aim in the summer transfer window. Those plans could include making a double raid on Southampton for Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne, according to a report from The Guardian .
Schneiderlin would add a valuable extra option to a midfield that has at times been something of a problem area. Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas were superb in the first half of the season, but have looked fatigued of late. Meanwhile, Mourinho has often not trusted Fabregas' defensive acumen in a deep-lying role in the club's biggest games. Schneiderlin has been one of the Premier League's best defensive midfielders over the past two seasons, and will doubtless have impressed those at Stamford Bridge with a commanding performance against Chelsea last month.
A France international, Schneiderlin was prevented from moving to Tottenham last summer, but has made it clear in interviews that he wants to play in the Champions League. Southampton's recent drop off in form means they are highly unlikely to be able to provide him with that next season. Competition, though, could well come from Tottenham and Arsenal.
Clyne, meanwhile is believed to be high on the wanted list of Manchester United, and, with a contract that has just over a year remaining, he could also be on the move. The 24-year-old's performances at right-back have earned him a now regular role in the England squad, although his position would not appear to be a priority for Chelsea. Branislav Ivanovic has arguably been the Premier League's best in that position this season, while Cesar Azpilicueta, who has made the left-back position his own, was signed to play on the right of defense. Clyne may have major hesitations about moving to a club where he wouldn't be automatic first-choice, given that he turned down Manchester United to move to Southampton in 2012, because of the opportunity to play more regularly.
A more surprising target has also seemingly emerged out of Japan. According to reports there, Chelsea have made a bid of around £4 million for FC Tokyo and Japan forward Yoshinori Muto. The 22-year-old is thought to have caught the eye during January's Asian Cup.
“It is true that we have received an official offer from Chelsea for Muto,” a spokesman for FC Tokyo said, reports Sky Sports . “But nothing has been decided.”
It remains to be seen to what degree, if at all, a prospective deal is influenced by Chelsea recently signing a major shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese firm Yokohama Rubber Company. Muto has scored three goals in four J-League matches this season after scoring 13 in 33 last term. He explained that he has not yet made up his mind about his future.
“I'm honored to receive an offer from this wonderful team, but I have not made any decision yet,” he told reporters in Japan.
It doesn't appear that Chelsea will be welcoming Valencia midfielder André Gomes to Stamford Bridge this summer. The Portugal international has been a major part in Valencia's fine season, which currently sees them sitting in fourth place in La Liga.
Gomes, who only arrived from Benfica last summer, has been insistent that, despite links with Chelsea, he wants to stay with the Spanish side for the foreseeable future.
“I'm not worried about what the future holds,” he said, according to the Daily Mail . “I am convinced that I will stay in Valencia because I am very happy here. I just think about spending the next season in Spain. Chelsea? I do not know anything and also my agent is not aware of any opportunity.”
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