Chelsea haven’t yet given up hope of securing the loan signing of Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid before the transfer window closes at 11pm this evening.
Discussions have been held between the Blues and the La Liga champions over the past few days regarding the 26-year-old, who is understood to be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge.
The major sticking point – as previously reported by football.london – in the talks has been the set-up of the loan deal. Atletico Madrid have been keen on an obligation being put in place for Chelsea to sign Saul permanently next summer for around £35million.
Chelsea, understandably, are not willing to commit to that and only want an option to sign Saul, partly because of their long-term interest in West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice, who it’s felt will be more attainable after the current campaign.
Atletico are also unlikely to let Saul leave the Wanda Metropolitano in the final hours of deadline day unless they have a replacement secured. Although, according to Get French Football News, the Spanish giants are in talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a loan deal for Pablo Sarabia.
Central midfield is undoubtedly the area most in need of strengthening by Chelsea in the final hours of the transfer window.
Thomas Tuchel currently has just three top-level midfielders in his squad: N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic. Although Mason Mount, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah could all fit into the double six if required.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is another option Tuchel could turn to and, as things stand, he is set to remain at Stamford Bridge until January.
Ethan Ampadu could depart on loan if Saul arrives; the 20-year-old hasn’t featured in any of the opening four match-day squads of the campaign.
Chelsea went into deadline day still hoping to complete a deal for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde.
But the La Liga club’s sporting director, Monchi, has said the France international will only leave the La Liga side if his buyout clause of £68million is met.
“The only offer from Chelsea for Kounde was last Wednesday for an amount we didn’t like,” he said.
“It was not enough for us. We responded with a counter-offer which had a deadline of Friday, to allow us to be able to sign a replacement. They did not respond to that counter-offer before Friday.
“Kounde’s clause never went up to €90million. It has always been €80million. We met at the end of May to discuss our targets for the window.
“I’m happy with how it went, but not 100% satisfied. There have been some factors such as the salary cap that have affected the plans.”
A deal for Kounde is looking unlikely at this stage for Chelsea. But the blow of missing out on the 22-year-old could be softened if the Blues can come to an agreement over Saul.