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    Five defenders Chelsea could sign to replace Rudiger including Kounde and Szalai as Real Madrid close in on centre-back

    CHELSEA are still sweating over the future of Antonio Rudiger. The German, 28, is yet to sign a new deal and has attracted attention from Europe’s elite, most notably Real Madrid.
    Chelsea are still sweating over the future of Antonio RudigerCredit: Rex
    Cesar Azpilicueta, 32, Thiago Silva, 37, and Andreas Christensen, 25, are also defenders Chelsea face losing for nothing unless contract extensions are agreed.
    The Blues are said to be prepared to offer all four new deals, but it will not stop them from scouting out alternatives.
    Here, SunSport runs down five centre-back options for Chelsea.
    Jules Kounde
    Frenchman Kounde, 23, looked all set for a move from Sevilla to Stamford Bridge in the summer and is believed to have agreed personal terms.
    But, after Chelsea sold Kurt Zouma, 27, to accommodate the move, Sevilla raised the price tag to £60million at the last minute, opposed to the original £43m.
    That is said to have caused Chelsea to pull out of the deal, which in turn paved the way for 22-year-old Trevoh Chalobah’s emergence in the squad.
    Jules Kounde looked all set for a move to Stamford Bridge in the summerCredit: Getty

    Attila Szalai
    Fenerbahce’s Szalai, 23, has emerged as a cut-price alternative option at the back for the Blues.
    And speculation from Turkey has even claimed Chelsea have agreed a deal of £20m to sign the defender in the winter window.
    Szalai has won 21 caps since making his senior international debut for Hungary in 2019.
    Attila Szalai has won 21 caps since making his senior international debut for Hungary in 2019Credit: PA
    Marquinhos
    Chelsea were last summer linked to the Brazilian, 27, who is the current PSG captain.
    And despite reportedly being prepared to pay up to £86m for Marquinhos, neither the player or PSG appeared interested in the deal.
    But that is not to say Chelsea would not try their luck again, especially as Marquinhos could be deemed the perfect successor to former team-mate Silva.
    Marquinhos is the current PSG captainCredit: Getty
    Niklas Sule
    Earlier in the year, German Sule, 26, was rumoured to be a target Chelsea were considering signing in the summer.
    Since then, he is yet to sign a new Bayern Munich deal, which is set to expire at the end of this season.
    It means Chelsea could be cleared to negotiate a free transfer with Sule as soon as next month, with Newcastle also linked with the defender.

    Niklas Sule is yet to sign a new Bayern Munich dealCredit: Reuters
    Pau Torres
    Villarreal’s Torres, 24, was close to a move to London in the summer, but with Chelsea’s rivals Tottenham.
    And already the defender could be a favourite amongst Blues fans after turning down Spurs.
    He is said to have been a name shortlisted on Chelsea’s defensive targets in the past and is believed to have a £56m release clause in his contract.
    Vllarreal centre-half Pau Torres rejected a move to SpursCredit: Getty More

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    Chelsea given easier run at Aurelien Tchouameni transfer after Juventus pull out of race for Monaco star

    CHELSEA have been given a boost in their quest to sign Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni after Juventus reportedly pulled out of the race.The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away from the principality in 2022 following an impressive start to the season.
    Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni has been linked with a move to Chelsea next yearCredit: Getty
    Valued at £42million by the Ligue 1 outfit, Tchouameni has chipped in with two goals in 22 games for Niko Kovac’s men.
    His fine form saw him called up to the France senior side in August, with the player since being capped on seven occasions.
    Thomas Tuchel is understood to be a huge admirer of the ex-Bordeuax man, as he looks to lure him to Stamford Bridge next summer.
    Tchouameni, who is tied down at Monaco until 2024, has also been claimed to be on the radar of Juventus and Real Madrid.
    But according to Calciomercato, the Old Lady have decided against securing his services to give the Blues an easier run at landing him.
    They state that the Serie A side have deemed him as too expensive, with the club only open to signing him on loan, while Monaco will only allow him to move on a permanent deal.

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    As a result, Juve will now look to bring in other targets – notably Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic.
    Speaking to L’Equipe recently, Tchouameni declared that he isn’t paying attention to rumours over his future.
    He said: “My father called me, we talked about everything and he told me that I was on the front page of Marca. I went on Twitter and saw for myself.
    “I told him it was cool, but what does it actually matter? It doesn’t. The front page of Marca will not define me or allow me to perform well in matches.
    “It’s not real life, but it is the media world, the football business. They talk about me today but tomorrow, they’ll be talking about another.
    “In the dressing room, they put the cover up and laughed’ ‘Oh, you’re leaving us already?’.
    “It’s flattering, but I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about it.

    “When I started in Bordeaux, the media were already wondering every summer if Aurelien Tchouameni was going to move to a bigger club.
    “In 2018, they were already talking about Juventus or Milan.
    “I know for a fact that what is true in October is not necessarily what’s true in June. If I start to think that I’m going to leave, it will show directly in my performances on the pitch.”
    Chelsea stars Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso compete in bake off but Blues skipper cooks up ‘complete disaster’ More

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    ‘Just give him the money’ – Chelsea told to give Antonio Rudiger new deal as he will cost at least £30m to replace

    EMMANUEL PETIT has urged Chelsea to extend Antonio Rudiger’s contract by the end of the season to prevent him from leaving for free.The defender is said to be extremely unhappy with the club after they fell short of his wage demands by £60,000.
    Rudiger has been a standout player for Chelsea this seasonCredit: Getty
    Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich are all said to be interested in the Chelsea man, who has been a key player for Thomas Tuchel since he took over at the start of the year.
    Rudiger has expressed his desire to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the summer, but only if the Blues will increase his wages.
    When speaking to Bookmakers.com, former Chelsea midfielder Petit said: “He looks like one of the best defenders around.
    “He could leave on a free and Chelsea would have to spend a minimum of £30 million to find a new defender of his level, and there’s never a guarantee a buy will work out.

    “This guy is a survivor. Since Tuchel has been the manager he’s been one of the top defenders in world football.
    “If he asks for two more years, just give him the money.”
    Chelsea have recently been linked with Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt who could potentially act as Rudiger’s replacement if he were to leave the club.
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    Chelsea ‘make £34m transfer bid’ for Real Madrid star Eder Militao and offer star defender huge salary rise

    CHELSEA have made a £34million bid for Real Madrid centre-back Eder Militao, according to reports.The 23-year-old has broken through into Carlo Ancelotti’s first team this season, starting all 12 of their LaLiga matches.
    Militao could be set for a move to Stamford BridgeCredit: Getty
    Yet despite coming into favour at the Bernabeu, Chelsea are trying to tempt him to Stamford Bridge with an offer that would see his wages increase significantly.
    Militao signed a six-year deal with Real Madrid in 2019 and so remains under contract until 2025.
    But, according to El Nacional, interest from the Blues is pressuring Los Blancos president Florentino Perez into renegotiating an improved deal for Militao.
    The Brazilian arrived in the Spanish capital from Porto in 2019 for £43.5million, becoming the first signing of Zinedine Zidane’s second spell at the club.
    He has gone on to rack up 57 appearances for the 13-time European champions, scoring two goals.
    Militao’s impressive displays at club level have also earned him a run in the Brazilian national team.

    After making his international debut in 2018, he has now appeared 18 times for his country.
    Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel believes Militao would fit into his back three system if he was to join the London outfit.
    The Blues’ interest in Militao comes amid uncertainty over a couple of Chelsea’s current centre-backs.

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    Thiago Silva, 36, looks set to leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.
    And German defender Antonio Rudiger’s deal is also up in the summer, although Chelsea are keen to try and extend his stay at Stamford Bridge.
    Tuchel’s side boast the best defensive record in the Premier League having conceded just four goals in their opening 11 games. More

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    Chelsea flop Timo Werner wanted by Barcelona on loan transfer in January with crisis club desperate for new striker

    BARCELONA are reportedly interested in signing Chelsea flop Timo Werner on loan in the January transfer window.The German forward has struggled to adjust to the Premier League since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2020.
    Goals have been few and far between for Werner since joining ChelseaCredit: PA
    He has managed just 14 goals in 62 appearances and only two goals so far this season.
    Yet despite his poor form in England, Werner remains a desirable acquisition for many clubs around Europe.
    And, according to The Hard Tackle, Barcelona have now emerged as a potential location for the 25-year-old in January.
    New boss Xavi, who took over from Ronald Koeman last week, has already been hit with a striker crisis at the Nou Camp.
    Martin Braithwaite is continuing to recover from a serious injury, with Sergio Aguero also out indefinitely.
    Young star Ansu Fati is struggling with fitness issues and Luke de Jong is reportedly not favoured by the new Barca manager.

    As a result, they are looking for a new focal point to their attack and Werner is said to fit the mould.
    However, due to the Catalan giants’ crippling financial situation they would only be looking to bring the Chelsea man in on loan.
    As well as Werner, Barca have also been linked with a number of other Premier League forwards.
    These include Manchester City and England international Raheem Sterling and Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.
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    Xavi is looking to turn Barca’s fortunes around after a disastrous start to the campaign under Koeman.
    They currently sit ninth in the LaLiga table having won just four of their opening 12 games.
    And they also face a fight to qualify out of their Champions League group following defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica. More

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    Chelsea ‘agree £20m Attila Szalai transfer fee from Fenerbahce’ with 23-year-old defender dubbed ‘Hungarian Van Dijk’

    CHELSEA have reportedly agreed a £20million fee to sign Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai.The 23-year-old came to the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs with his superb performances for Hungary at Euro 2020.
    Szalai looks set to sign for Chelsea in JanuaryCredit: Getty
    And now, according to CNN Turk, he will sign a six-year contract at Stamford Bridge and join up with Thomas Tuchel’s squad in January.
    Szalai, dubbed the ‘Hungarian Virgil van Dijk’, is expected to earn an annual salary of around £3.4m.
    He will likely be the eventual successor to 36-year-old Thiago Silva as the Brazilian’s contract comes to an end in the summer.
    Szalai’s valuation has soared since joining Super Lig giants Fenerbache from Cypriots Apollon Limassol in January – for just £1.8m.
    He previously played for Rapid Vienna and Hungarian club Mezokovesd.
    The defender is under contract with the Turkish side until 2025 but Chelsea are expected to get a deal over the line.

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    Szalai has won 21 caps since making his senior international debut for Hungary in 2019.
    He played in both their recent World Cup qualifiers against England – a 4-0 home loss in Budapest and last month’s impressive 1-1 draw at Wembley.
    Meanwhile, Tuchel has a number of options in the centre-back position at this moment in time.
    The German coach boasts six recognised central defenders in his current squad – Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr.
    And he has been able to rotate those players so far this season while maintaining a solid defensive record.
    Chelsea have conceded just four Premier League goals in 11 games, the fewest of any team.
    What’s more, two of those came from the penalty spot, meaning Gabriel Jesus’ deflected strike and Matej Vydra’s goal for Burnley last weekend are the only ones Tuchel’s side have conceded from open play. More

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    Chelsea fight to keep talented youngster Ben Elliott, 18, at club with THREE Prem rivals targeting transfer swoop

    CHELSEA are facing a fight to keep hold of another of their brilliant young players with teenager Ben Elliott being tracked by a trio of Premier League rivals.Southampton, Brighton and Brentford have all shown an interested in the teenager who the European champions are keen to tie down to a new long-term deal.
    Highly-rated Chelsea youngster Ben Elliott, 18, is wanted in a three-way tussle by Southampton, Brighton and BrentfordCredit: Getty
    Playmaker Elliott, 18, has been a highly-regarded member of the Blues academy since a schoolboy and has been part of the club’s under-23 squad for the past 18 months.
    But his current contract runs out at the end of this season and though Chelsea are putting a new deal on the table, they fear he may be tempted to follow a number of other bright talents in making a move elsewhere.
    Brighton bagged a bargain when they captured Tariq Lamptey for £5million with the offer of regular first team football for the then 19-year-old.
    And Saints themselves forked out £5m last summer for another full-back in Tino Livramento – with both players deciding their development would be stifled by a lack of first team opportunities if they stayed at Chelsea.
    So for the two South Coast clubs and Brentford to start showing interest is worrying news for bosses at Stamford Bridge.
    They know they are unable to offer as much realistic chance to first team call-ups, even though he has been training in and around Thomas Tuchel’s squad this season.

    Elliott is exactly the kind of profile that fits the models of Saints, Brighton and Brentford like to work with in developing young talent who could not only thrive in the first team but also be sold on for big profit.
    And the trio could even make their moves in January to avoid him becoming a free agent in the summer.
    A bid of around £800,000 might be enough to land the prospect If he decides his future lies away from Chelsea.
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    Real Madrid plan to offload FOUR top-earners including Hazard to land Chelsea star Rudiger in £200k-a-week free transfer

    REAL MADRID are preparing to offload four star players as they look to bring in Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger at the end of the season.Carlo Ancelotti has relied on David Alaba and Eder Militao as his first choice central defensive pairing for much of the 2021-22 campaign so far.
    Rudiger could be set to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the seasonCredit: Getty
    Bale’s Madrid contract expires in the summerCredit: Getty
    But he is still keen to strengthen in that area of his squad and has identified Chelsea’s German stalwart as a potential target.
    Rudiger’s contract comes to an end at Stamford Bridge in the summer.
    This means he is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club as early as January.
    And, according to AS, Real could be in a position to offer him a £200,000 a week deal because of the absence of a transfer fee.
    They are also expecting to shift some huge wage earners from their books at the end of the campaign.
    These include Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco who will all become free agents in the summer.

    Hazard has been a total flop since arriving in SpainCredit: Rex
    And Eden Hazard, whose deal runs until 2024, could also be on his way out having netted just five goals in 53 games since arriving from Chelsea in 2019.
    Meanwhile, Fabrizio Romano reported earlier this month that Chelsea are continuing to try and negotiate a new contract with Rudiger.
    He said: “Chelsea are still negotiating with Toni Rudiger agents over new contract.
    “Talks ongoing – there’s currently no agreement on salary but it’s not over as Rudiger is so happy with Chelsea and Tuchel.”
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    Rudiger was superb under Thomas Tuchel in the second half of last season, playing an integral part in their Champions League triumph.
    But it looks as though the Blues could already be preparing for life without him following the announcement of Trevoh Chalobah’s new contract on Thursday.
    The 22-year-old has committed his future to Chelsea by penning a new four-and-a-half year deal which will keep him at the club until 2026. More