- SunSport Reporters
- 16 Feb 2020, 20:04
- Updated: 17 Feb 2020, 8:01
CHELSEA are preparing for a tasty Premier League return at home to Man Utd, but there's also good news on the transfer front...
The Blues have reportedly agreed a £37m deal to sign Hakim Ziyech, while talks with Jadon Sancho's representatives have begun.
Follow all the latest Chelsea news and gossip below...
Chelsea's new signing Hakim Ziyech made an impressive cameo on his return for Ajax.
The Moroccan started against RKC Waalwijk after missing a number of games due to a calf injury.
The star will move to Stamford Bridge in the summer for £37million and his new employers will have been impressed with what they saw.
Ziyech had a 72% successful pass rate, completed two dribbles and had two shots before being replaced in the 46th minute, according to Goal.
Hakim Ziyech is the perfect signing for Chelsea as they have lacked a game-changer since Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid in the summer.
Four Four Two suggest Ziyech will slot perfectly into Chelsea's left-hand side and at 26 is about to hit his peak.
He has the killer instinct in the final third that the Blues are currently missing and has shown his quality in an Ajax shirt so it is a sensible signing and not too risky.
The Moroccan international could be the man for Lampard to build his new project around.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Paul Merson believes Chelsea's signing of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax shows how Frank Lampard has a plan in contrast to the aimless business conducted by Manchester United.
In his Daily Star column, Merson said: “Now they’re [Chelsea] buying Hakim Ziyech from Ajax. Another good signing. Quick. Experienced. Full of goals, and the right age. You can see a plan there.
“I think Frank is building something good for the future. What are United building by buying Odion Ighalo?
“What’s the plan there? You can see the plan at Chelsea. I can’t see one at United.”
WE KAN DO IT
Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante has predicted his side will finish in the top four ahead of their clash with Manchester United on Monday.
He told the club's website: “I believe we have the team to get what we want this season – to finish in the top four, get Champions League football next season and why not to win a title as well.
“We have everything that we need in this team.
“We are having an important time of the season because we are all fighting for the fourth position.
“Man United were a bit behind but now they have closed the gap so it’s a big opportunity either for us to keep them behind or for them to close the gap more.”
BARK-ING UP THE WRONG TREE
Frank Lampard's decision to promote Scottish youngster Billy Gilmour to his first-team squad could mean the writing is on the wall for Ross Barkley at Chelsea, according to The Express.
Former Derby boss Lampard had no choice but to promote youth after Chelsea's transfer ban but his decision to insert the 18-year-old into his squad is a ringing endorsement of Gilmour's talents.
However, it could be bad news for Barkley. The former Everton midfielder has started only 6 Premier League games this season and is already behind Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount in Chelsea's pecking order.
David Moyes was rumoured to be trying to bring Barkley to West Ham in the January transfer window but a move never materialised.
STILL A KEPA?
Frank Lampard could restore under-fire goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga to his starting line-up for Monday's Premier League clash against Manchester United according to chelsea-news.
Kepa had been dropped in favour of Willy Caballero after a number of high-profile errors cost his side.
However, Lampard could give the world's most expensive goalkeeper another shot.
The Spanish shot-stopper has been working hard in training to improve on recent showings and may be handed a start against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Monday night.
Lampard has been impressed with the former Athletic Bilbao keeper's response to being dropped and admits he has a tough choice over who to start with at Stamford Bridge.
All the key stats before Chelsea play Manchester United on Monday night after the Premier League's winter break:
Stamford Bridge has not been a happy hunting ground for United – Chelsea have only lost one of their last 17 Premier League home games against them.
The only defeat came in October 2012 when Sir Alex Ferguson led his side to a 3-2 victory over a Chelsea team that were down to nine men at the end after Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres were sent off.
The Blues will be looking for revenge after the 4-0 thumping they suffered at Old Trafford on the first day of the season.
Chelsea need a win to prevent United from doing a league double over them for the first time since 1987/88.
However, United will be confident of getting a result on Monday after winning 2-1 at the Bridge in the Carabao Cup earlier this season when a wonderful Marcus Rashford free-kick was the difference between the sides.
DO NOT HAKIM!
New Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech has been hauled off at half-time in Ajax's Eredivisie game with RKC Waalwijk in what looks like fresh injury trouble for the Moroccan international.
Blues fans will be sweating on the fitness of their first summer signing who it was announced this week will join the club in a deal worth £37million.
Boss Frank Lampard will hope to have the midfielder fit and firing when he joins up with the squad in the summer.
Ziyech has an incredible record for Ajax, before today's game he had scored 22 goals in just 47 games from midfield.
Hopefully Ziyech's substitution was just a precaution and there won't be any serious injury concerns for those at Stamford Bridge to worry about.
OFF TO PAS-TURES NEW
Chelsea midfielder Mario Pasalic is set to leave the club permanently and join Italian side Atalanta.
Croatian midfielder Pasalic joined Atalanta on loan in 2018. He spent a year at the club before signing a new deal at Chelsea until 2022. He then returned for a second season on loan in 2019.
Fabrizio Romano – who works for Sky Sports in Italy – believes a permanent deal worth around £12million will go through in the summer.
This news comes just days after Chelsea confirmed they will sign Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech for £37m at the end of the season.
Pasalic has never made a senior appearance for Chelsea despite joining in 2014 from Hajduk Split.
The central midfielder previously was sent out on loan to Elche, Monaco, AC Milan and Spartak Moscow before settling at Atalanta.
JUAN OF THE BEST
Ahead of his return to Stamford Bridge, Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata told Four Four Two who would make his Perfect XI.
Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic slotted in at right-back with club legend John Terry featuring in the heart of defence.
Current Blues manager Frank Lampard earned a spot in Mata's midfield three, the Spanish playmaker described Lampard as “simply, one of the best players in the history of English football”.
Didier Drogba was the last ex-Chelsea star to make the side and the Ivorian impressed Mata with his power and finishing while the two shared many happy memories together at Stamford Bridge.
UP AND COMING
After the inaugural Premier League winter break, Chelsea are back in action tomorrow night when they face Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Here are the Blues' next five fixtures…
- Mon 17 Feb, 8pm – Manchester United (h), Premier League
- Sat 22 Feb, 12.30pm – Tottenham (h), Premier League
- Tue 25 Feb, 8pm – Bayern Munich (h), Champions League last 16
- Sat 29 Feb, 3pm – Bournemouth (a), Premier League
- Tue 3 Mar, 7.45pm – Liverpool (h), FA Cup fifth round
DOR IS OPEN
The Blues have reportedly stepped up their pursuit to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho.
Frank Lampard's side are set to battle against Manchester United and Liverpool for the 19-year-old's signature this summer.
France Football claim Chelsea have already got the ball rolling by starting the “seduction business” with Sancho.
The England star has emerged as Chelsea's top target after scoring 15 goals and making 15 assists this season.
HAVE SOME OF MAT
Chelsea will look to seal another move ahead of the summer, this time acquiring Matias Vecino from Inter Milan for £23m.
The Blues recently confirmed a deal that would see Hakim Ziyech move to the Stamford Bridge in the summer.
And now, the Sunday Express, report the club are close to completing a move for the 28-year-old Uruguayan.
Frank Lampard is looking to bolster his squad heavily in the summer, having been frustrated at a lack of signings last month – despite their ban being overturned.
MORNING, BLUES FANS
Chelsea are currently preparing for Man Utd’s visit to Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with just six points separating them in the table.
And Frank Lampard has urged his team of youngsters to seal a Champions League spot as quickly as possible, starting by moving nine points clear of the Red Devils on Monday night.
But performances by Chelsea’s more experienced heads will prove just as pivotal, with the club still trying to tie Willian down to a new contract.
Despite landing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax this week, the Brazilian remains in talks to extend his deal past the end of the season.
However, Willian wants a three-year contract to remain at Chelsea.
That's given club chiefs a headache as they tend to offer just one-season extensions to players over 30.
The uncertainty over Willian’s future means Lampard is also looking at re-signing former academy player Jeremie Boga.
The winger has been a smash hit for Italian side Sassuolo, and Chelsea can buy him back for just £12million.
However, the Serie A club are desperate to keep Boga and have flown to London to convince the Blues to remove their clause altogether.
Chelsea have a tough run of games after hosting United, with their following two matches against Spurs in the league and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
They will also have to go up against the Red Devils without Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but Tammy Abraham’s fitness will be monitored on the day.
HAK’S EARLY BLOW
The death of Hakim Ziyech’s father almost drove him from football for good.
Chelsea’s £33.3million midfield new boy, 26, fell into a destructive spiral of drink and drugs after the tragedy when he was just ten.
The youngest of nine children to a Dutch mother and Moroccan father, he loved the game from an early age.
And his dad was ever-present by his side during his time with local amateur side Reaal Dronten.
Life grew tougher as his father struggled more and more with multiple sclerosis.
Ziyech told Dutch newspaper De Volskrant: “That disease wrecked him. He could do less and less. No more walking, eating, talking.
“He had previously had a heart attack. He worked hard and smoked a lot.
“I remember it well, it was winter, just after Christmas.
“My father was in bed in the living room. He was sick for some time.
“I had to go to bed that night, but wanted to stay with him. Eventually I fell asleep on the edge of his bed with him.
“Around midnight I woke up and went upstairs to my bedroom.
“A few hours later, around three o’clock, I heard family members crying downstairs.
“I went to the living room. My father was dead. And there you are, a ten-year-old boy . . .
“I didn’t go to school any more. Football didn’t matter to me either. I was completely gone.”
Frank Lampard warned his young stars to raise their game — because new signings will be after their places.
He said: “They have now shown they’re part of this first-team squad and they’ve all had their inputs, but I want more — and I want more now.
“It’s a critical time for us and we want the young players to do the thing.
“You look at Tammy at the moment and maybe Mason, they can come back and hopefully show more levels in their game.
“They have had tough little times recently and it’s up to them now to show they are a big part of our plans whatever — no matter who we bring in.
“When you come through the academy here, you should understand what playing for the first-team at Chelsea looks like and you must always drive yourself.
“If there are times when you’re not quite at your best, you have to drive yourself again.
“We should be slightly on edge. People are being tense and competitive. And we have to take that into the game against United, we really do.
“We want to be pushing to close the gap to the standard which, at the moment, is Liverpool. That’s the longer-term vision.
“The prospect of signings is a good thing and needs to be reacted to in the right way.
“I certainly felt it. When I was young, I was probably a bit fearful of it. Looking back, it was part of the process of making me.
“And I think I did take that challenge on. Of course, the players now have to take that challenge on constantly.”
FRANK YOU, NEXT
The Blues are monitoring Diego Simeone's situation at Atletico Madrid and would consider replacing Frank Lampard, according to the Daily Express.
Lamps has impressed in his first season as a Premier League boss.
But throwing his toys out of the pram when Chelsdea did not sign anyone in January did him no favours.
Atletico have struggled this season and Argentine Simeone could be ready to move on.
HAKS OFF TO LAMPARD
Chelsea's £37million swoop for Ajax star Hakim Ziyech shows how far ahead of Man United they are, claims ex-England star Paul Merson.
Merson thinks people can see that Chelsea have a clear plan with the signing of Ziyech, 26, after having sold Eden Hazard to Real Madrid last summer.
And the 51-year-old is bemused why United signed former Watford striker Odion Ighalo on a £3m loan deal on deadline day.
“At least you can see a plan,” Merson told the Daily Star about Lampard and Chelsea.
“They have gone with younger players and they are building something.
“Now they’re buying Hakim Ziyech from Ajax. Another good signing. Quick. Experienced. Full of goals, and the right age.”
Jamie Carragher believes Man Utd midfielder Bruno Fernandes will face a difficult test against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Sky Sports pundit said: “I always think midfield with Chelsea because Chelsea have got a really strong midfield in Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic in there.
“It’s really strong and they’ve still got people like [Mason] Mount or [Ross] Barkley who could drop in there also.
“He’s been away with United now, getting to know his team-mates and integrate more so it’ll be interesting whether he plays central midfield or off the front as he played both positions in the game against Wolves.
“It will be interesting what happens in that area because that’s something where United wanted to strengthen, with [Paul] Pogba and [Scott] McTominay being out, so I think that’s where the game will be won.
“It will be interesting to see how Fernandes copes. It’s completely different playing away at Chelsea than playing at home to Wolves.”
LAZ JUST WAIT, OLI
Olivier Giroud has been offered a Chelsea escape route to Lazio – but plans to wait and see if Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho offers him a deal.
It would be a stunning switch for the Frenchman, who scored 73 goals in 119 Premier League starts for hated rivals Arsenal in a six-year spell.
Mourinho had hoped to bring in Giroud, 33, for the last half of this season due to the injury to Harry Kane.
But the Portuguese could now sign the striker on a short-term deal as back-up to Kane next season.
Italians Lazio want to offer Giroud a pre-contract now, with a view to him joining them in June.
The World Cup winner is in the last five months of his deal at Stamford Bridge and will leave on a free transfer.
WHERE THERE'S A WIL
Chelsea's deal to sign Hakim Ziyech has not affected Willian’s future at the club with both parties keen to agree a new contract.
The Blues announced on Thursday that the Moroccan forward will become Frank Lampard’s first signing after agreeing a £37m move for the star.
Despite his impending arrival in the summer, The Independent states the transfer will not impact Willian.
The Brazilian wide-man, 31, is out of contract in June and wants to stay at Stamford Bridge.
However, the veteran wants a three-year package, while Chelsea famously are reluctant to offer more than a 12-month extension to players in their thirties.
But both Willian and the Blues are keen to get the situation resolved before the end of the season.
Kurt Zouma has revealed Jose Mourinho once told him he was “rubbish” after a disappointing Chelsea defeat.
The Blues defender was given a dressing down after being beaten 3-1 under Mourinho.
According to reports he says the frank exchange in his old coach's office made him determined to prove himself.
Speaking to RMC Sport Zouma said: “I cannot remember which match we were playing, we were losing 3-1, away from home.
“The following day, he catches up with me, he takes me to his office, and he asks me if I am okay. I said yes, he asked me if I was sure. I said yes again, he replied: “Because you were rubbish this weekend.
“It shocked me but it made me want to immediately respond (on the pitch).”
CHO CHO SLIDE
Chelsea have reportedly held talks with Man Utd target Jadon Sancho over a summer move.
It is understood that Borussia Dortmund would be willing to part ways with the England international for the right price.
According to Fran Football, the Blues have begun conversations with Sancho's entourage.
The 19-year-old has chipped in with 13 goals and 13 assists in 20 Bundesliga games this season.
YES WAY, JOSE
Jose Mourinho believes Spurs are one of a number of clubs still capable of finishing in the Champions League spots.
Speaking to BBC One's Football Focus, he said: “First of all, I see much more clubs than people think.
“Sometimes it looks like, because Chelsea are the fourth and sometimes Tottenham is in fifth and Manchester United are the sixth, we are smelling the opportunity.
“I think people forget there are big contenders – Wolves, Sheffield United, Manchester United, even Arsenal, so it's not just about what's the distance between us and Chelsea.”