Chelsea earned a much-needed first victory of the new season by defeating West Brom on Sunday, but moves may still be made to improve Jose Mourinho’s squad ahead of the close of the transfer window on Sept. 1. Indeed, one major deal appears to have finally seen a notable breakthrough on Tuesday.
John Stones has already been the subject of three rejected bids from Stamford Bridge, but Everton’s resolve is set to be tested yet further after the center-back handed in a transfer request. Everton manager Roberto Martinez has reacted angrily to the public nature of Chelsea’s approach and the Merseyside club knocked back the most recent offer of £30 million. But, while Stones started against Manchester City on Sunday, his decision to make known his desire to leave means there will be plenty of scrutiny on the Everton team sheet to take on Barnsley on Wednesday.
It is thought that Chelsea may have to go up to £40 million to get their man, which would be an extraordinary fee for a 21-year-old who has been a Premier League regular for just 18 months. But Chelsea will hope Stones’ transfer request gives them the advantage required to get a deal done.
The pursuit of Stones currently looks by far the most advanced of Chelsea’s transfer moves, although speculation suggests he is not the only target. The London Evening Standard is among the sources reporting that the club will make a determined attempt to complete a Premier League-record £70-million transfer for Paul Pogba before the close of the window.
Pogba has been linked with almost every big club in Europe this summer, and it is easy to see why Chelsea would be keen on the Juventus star. A midfielder who can do everything, he would provide Chelsea the all-round attributes that Cesc Fabregas lacks alongside Nemanja Matic. However, Chelsea look set to be disappointed if they do launch a late bid.
While there was a thought that the France international may leave Turin earlier in the summer, the fact that Juventus have now allowed fellow midfielders Arturo Vidal and Andre Pirlo to leave, means it is hard to believe that they would also sanction Pogba’s departure. And at this late stage of the transfer window, the Italian champions would be left with little or no time to replace him.
Given the doubts about the ability of Radamel Falcao and Loic Remy to adequately step in for Diego Costa, a new striker could also feasibly be on Mourinho’s agenda. It would be fair to be skeptical, however, about reports that Chelsea are one of a number of Premier League clubs interested in Alexandre Pato. Originally linked with the likes of Sunderland and West Ham, The Telegraph appear convinced that Chelsea and Manchester United are also in the mix for a £10.9-million deal.
It would be a significant surprise were a club of Chelsea’s level to be seriously pursuing Pato, especially at such a hefty price. While a major talent when he was signed by AC Milan as a 17-year-old, the Brazilian’s time in Italy was severely hampered by a succession of injuries. His career failed to pick up when agreeing to a move back to Brazil with Corinthians two years ago, and he was allowed to move on loan to Sao Paulo last year.
Things have gone better for Pato of late, scoring nine goals in his last 11 appearances. Still, it is hard not to think that links with Chelsea are more to do with an agent drumming up interest rather than anything more tangible.