Wesley Fofana has told Leicester he wants to be allowed to join Chelsea, who are weighing up whether to make the 21-year-old the most expensive defender in the world.
Thomas Tuchel, who saw Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger leave on free transfers, wants to sign one more centre-back this summer and has identified Fofana as a key target.
The Frenchman has excelled since joining Leicester two years ago and is keen to make the switch to west London. However, Leicester, who have rejected two bids from Chelsea, are holding out for more than £80m and are determined not to lose him during the current window.
One consideration for Chelsea is whether Fofana is fully up to speed after returning from a broken leg. They are aware it could take at least £85m to convince Leicester to sell. Sources have indicated Chelsea will eventually meet Leicester’s asking price.
Tuchel has already strengthened his defence with the signings of Marc Cucurella and Kalidou Koulibaly, and signing Fofana give him the freedom to use Reece James as a right wing-back on a regular basis. James started there during Chelsea’s 2-2 Tottenham on Sunday.
The England international, who used his pace at centre-back to shut down Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, scored Chelsea’s second goal shortly after being switched to wing-back in the second half.
Chelsea are also looking for a striker and are planning to bid for Barcelona’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this week. Tuchel worked well with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund and needs more firepower after allowing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to leave.
Chelsea’s head coach is prepared to make sweeping changes to his attack. He has signed Raheem Sterling from Manchester City and could yet bid farewell to Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who wants to go out on loan. Christian Pulisic also faces an uncertain future at Stamford Bridge.
Tuchel’s attention is also on his midfield, particularly after N’Golo Kanté limped off with a hamstring injury against Spurs. Kanté, whose contract expires next year, could be out for a month, which could give Conor Gallagher a chance to cement himself in Tuchel’s plans. Gallagher replaced Kante against Spurs – another of Chelsea’s senior midfielders, Mateo Kovacic, was absent with a knee injury – and the England international will hope to get a run in the side.
The midfielder spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace and West Ham have made an unsuccessful attempt to sign Gallagher on loan, while Palace and Newcastle are interested in the 22-year-old.
Chelsea, who have turned down West Ham’s opening offer of £13m for Emerson Palmieri, wanting £15m for the Italy left-back, are on the verge of sealing the signing of the highly rated Internazionale midfielder Cesare Casadei. It is understood that they will pay a fee of £12m plus £4m in add-ons for Casadei, who has agreed personal terms with the west Londoners, with the transfer expected to go through before the end of the week.