Monday, June 17, 2024

Chelsea step up interest in Aston Villa’s Jhon Duran

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Chelsea have rekindled their interest in Aston Villa striker Jhon Duran, who has moved closer to the top of the club’s wanted list.

Duran was a target for Chelsea in the January transfer window and is back in the club’s sights as they work through their striker targets for this summer.

Benjamin Sesko has been struck off the shortlist after agreeing a new contract with RB Leipzig, which has enhanced Duran’s hopes of landing a move to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have at least two other strikers on their shortlist for this summer, but Duran is attainable and the club share a good relationship with Villa, who want to sign midfielder Conor Gallagher.

Sesko’s decision to remain at Leipzig has reduced Chelsea’s options, which may include former academy graduate Dominic Solanke, who is reported to have a £65 million release clause in his Bournemouth contract.

Duran wanted to join Chelsea in January and has made little secret of his interest in moving to Stamford Bridge by liking a host of Chelsea-related messages on his X account.

Villa need to sell players to allow them to spend money this summer and remain within profit and sustainability rules.

Playing second fiddle

Duran signed for Villa in a deal worth £18 million in January 2023 and the 20-year-old scored eight goals last season, including two from the substitutes’ bench in the draw with Liverpool that proved to be enough to clinch Champions League qualification.

Colombia international Duran is rated as one of the brightest young prospects in his position, but he is very much second fiddle to Ollie Watkins at Villa Park.

The agent of Duran, Jonathan Herrera, spoke of Chelsea’s interest in his client before Mauricio Pochettino left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent and was replaced by Enzo Maresca.

“The interest has always been there,” said Herrera last month. “The fact that Pochettino continues or leaves the club [shouldn’t affect], the one who wants him in the end is the club.

“He is a player that if they change coach or not, we will see what happens, but there has always been interest. Let’s see how we can handle it and make sure Aston Villa are ready.”

Tug of war for Gallagher

Villa would listen to offers for Duran and selling him to Chelsea would boost their own hopes of trying to sign Gallagher, who is also a target of Tottenham and is one of a host of players who could leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

Borussia Dortmund want to sign left-back Ian Maatsen, but are currently unwilling to meet Chelsea’s £35 million valuation which has opened the door to interest from the Premier League.

Chelsea want to sell Romelu Lukaku and are open to offers for Armando Broja, while another player who spent part of last season out on loan, Cesare Casadei, has attracted interest from overseas and could be allowed to leave.

Casadei played for Maresca on loan at Leicester City last season, but the midfielder has Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez and Romeo Lavia ahead of him at Chelsea, even if Gallagher leaves. Andrey Santos could also be part of the first-team squad.

As well as chasing a new striker, Chelsea are expected to sign a new left-back this summer and also remain admirers of Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise.

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