Chelsea facing ‘uphill battle’ to get £102m transfer over the line with ‘time running out’

Rodgers comments on Chelsea's interest in Fofana

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Chelsea are unlikely to succeed in bringing AC Milan forward Rafael Leao to Stamford Bridge in advance of Thursday’s all-important transfer deadline, according to reports. The Blues are said to be in the market for a new first-choice striker and have been credited with a strong desire to land Leao, who helped AC Milan to clinch last season’s Serie A title with 11 league goals over the course of the campaign.

The Portuguese marksman is said to have emerged as a target for Chelsea over the last few weeks, with the west Londoners having opened initial talks with his representatives to gauge his interest in a move earlier this month. However, it seems as though there will be too little time for the Blues to strike an agreement with Milan before the transfer window slams shut, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

It is claimed that Milan are not interested in selling Leao under any circumstances despite the possibility of bringing in a club-record fee of around £102million in exchange for his services. The player remains tied down to the Italian giants until the summer of 2024 and his current employers are determined to keep him on their books for the foreseeable future as things stand.

Chelsea remain eager to negotiate with regards to a move for Leao but will reportedly face an uphill battle to find a compromise as a result of Milan’s firm stance against a late summer exit. It remains to be seen whether the Blues will drop their pursuit of the 23-year-old in order to chase their other targets, with Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also understood to be on Thomas Tuchel’s radar ahead of next week’s deadline.

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The former Arsenal man has reportedly been placed on the transfer list by Barcelona, who are looking to sell players to allow them to register their new signings over the coming days. Chelsea are understood to have reached an agreement for around £25m for Aubameyang, but the deal is said to be ‘stalling’ due to a disagreement over the length of his proposed contract.

Chelsea have already spent more than any other Premier League club in the transfer market over the course of this summer, with new owner Todd Boehly having splashed around £175million on player recruitment over the last few months. Blues manager Tuchel has already insisted that he will be looking to add more new faces to his squad over the next few days but went on to admit that it would not be the end of the world if no further deals are struck.

“We don’t play fantasy football, and in the end, we need to pay for it, convince the players, and convince clubs to give us their best players, and this is simply not happening,” the Chelsea boss told reporters earlier this month.

“I am super happy with what we’ve succeeded so far. Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Carney [Chukwuemeka] and Marc Cucurella are fantastic signings, and I’m more than happy they are with us.

“It’s not finished, everybody knows. But if it’s finished, if we don’t do anything else, we fight with this squad. If it’s not finished, we try to get further quality and with further quality, the ambition level rises.”

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