Chelsea are interested in Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, reports Sky in Italy.
The 22-year-old Netherlands defender has a £103m (€120m) release clause in his Juventus contract, which is due to expire in 2024, and the club will only entertain offers close to that mark.
Juventus club chiefs met with De Ligt’s agent Rafaela Pimenta on Thursday, mainly to speak about Paul Pogba’s potential return to Turin.
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Chelsea are looking for defensive reinforcements in this transfer window, having seen Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen leave upon the expiration of their contracts.
Juventus agreed to pay an initial fee of €75m (£67.8m) across five financial years to Ajax for De Ligt in 2019, making him the most expensive defender in Italian top-flight history.
De Ligt – Ajax’s youngest-ever captain – led the Eredivisie club to a domestic league and cup double that year, as well as taking them to the Champions League semi-finals in which they lost to Tottenham in the final seconds in Amsterdam.
He has played 87 times for Juve in Serie A, winning the division in 2019/20 although they have not progressed past the Champions League last 16.
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
“The deal will be done and Lukaku is also getting his wish. He is returning to Inter Milan. Obviously, Chelsea paid £97.5m for him and the move hasn’t worked out. Inter are paying a £7m loan fee and he’s also taking a pay-cut of around 35 per cent to return to Inter as it’s what he wants to do.
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“It’s good news for Chelsea that this situation has been sorted out as they can really now press play when it comes to signing players. We know they want to sign a centre-back because Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger have left.
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“Sky Italy are telling us that they’re very interested in signing Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt. His situation is a little bit complicated as he still has two years left on his contract but Chelsea would like to sign him. He has a release clause which is around €120m – there’s no way Chelsea would pay that sort of money for him.
“Another defender they’re interested in is Jules Kounde at Sevilla. They’ve been trying to sign him for a very long time – I wouldn’t be surprised if there were major developments on that front. They’re interested in Richarlison, Raphinha, the long-term target Declan Rice who’d be very difficult to sign but now that Lukaku has been sorted out, expect to see a lot of deals being done by Chelsea.”
Chelsea kick off their 2022/23 season with a trip to Frank Lampard’s Everton live on Sky Sports before hosting London rivals Spurs in their first home game.
Thomas Tuchel’s side face a reunion with Blues legend Lampard at Goodison Park on August 6, kick-off 5.30pm, before Tottenham visit Stamford Bridge a week later.
Chelsea will host Liverpool in West London on September 17, Manchester United on October 22 and Arsenal on November 5.
Their final fixture before the month-long break for the World Cup is away at Newcastle, and they continue their campaign on Boxing Day against newly-promoted Bournemouth.
Chelsea travel to Tottenham on February 25 and Arsenal on April 29, with the latter the start of a bumper last five games including Manchester City away on the penultimate weekend of the season and Newcastle at home on the final day.
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