CHELSEA’S striker search heats up as a first signing looms, and there’s further speculation over Antonio Conte’s future.
It’s a Chelsea dose of gossip in Rumour Mill.
DONE DEAL LOOMS
Gazzetta dello Sport believe Chelsea will open deadline week with a deal for Roma defender Emerson Palmieri on Monday.
The fullback has been a popular Stamford Bridge target all window, and they appear set to nab him for £18m, plus for £4m in add-ons.
The Serie A outfit could make quite the windfall from London this week with £44m coming their way if a deal for Edin Dzeko gets over the line.
That’s still no certainty, however, with The Independent running the angle that talks have broken down between the two clubs over the striker.
“What gives me sleepless nights is the performance in the first 25-30 minutes and failing to put the ball in the net,” Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco told Mediaset Premium after a 1-0 league loss to Sampdoria when asked about the striker.
“As for the rest, that will be resolved by January 31.”
Before the game, club director Monchi said: “Negotiations are normal when the transfer window is open. I speak to the coach every day, we are always together. It’s normal that when the window closes, we are all a little stressed, especially ahead of a game.
“We are very happy with the way the coach works and understands the movements that the club makes.
“I saw Dzeko in the locker room … so we are in the same situation as other days. We are calm and happy he is here, hope he can continue building on the last game and score another goal.
“People ask about everything except the match. I know the market makes news, but we are all concentrated on the match.”
Monchi added: “Edin’s situation is not a difficulty. Edin is here, Edin played against Sampdoria on Wednesday and he plays tonight. We are in the same situation as eight days ago. I thought when a director speaks in Italy, people believe him, but evidently I have to earn that!”
The former Manchester City striker would be a vastly experienced addition to Conte’s central striking stocks, and ironically starred against Chelsea in a 3-3 draw in the Champions League in October.
The Blues have been linked with a bizarre bank of strikers this window in a bid to put some pressure on Alvaro Morata, including Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Christian Benteke and Ashley Barnes.
Chelsea icon Frank Lampard endorsed the Dzeko link. He told the Evening Standard: “Carroll and Crouch are not the kind of names Chelsea have gone for in the past.
“But January is a tough one and [Alexis] Sanchez is a one-off. The majority of the time you’re looking at making minor adjustments.
“If it’s a Crouch or Carroll, it’s just a back-up but Dzeko is something different. He is a very good player, an all-round striker with all the attributes.
“In terms of investing heavily, that will come in the summer. It’s very easy to say that Crouch and Carroll are not Chelsea signings but it’s not an indication of where Chelsea are going.
“It is more a sign that the manager doesn’t think they strengthened enough last summer.”
Chelsea’s entire January transfer narrative has focused on replacements for Michy Batshuayi.
The striker said overnight “I don’t know” what the future holds and told BT Sport on his future: “It’s up to the boss, it’s better to talk to Conte”.
But after scoring a brace in the FA Cup fourth round win over Newcastle, Conte re-affirmed that any new additions should be exactly that, an addition, not a replacement.
“If you see our squad we don’t have three, four or five strikers, we have two — Morata and Batshuayi.
“I don’t know what happens. But when you play in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup three strikers is the minimum.
“We have to see what happens in the market. If we are able to take another player, it doesn’t mean Michy has to go on loan.
“We have a lot of competitions. Three strikers is the minimum.
“I don’t know if Michy wants to stay or go on loan — it will be the player’s decision, not my decision.
“I’m ready to continue to work with these players. I’m very happy. But I don’t know what happens with the transfer market.”
The Belgian has been linked with a move to Sevilla on loan, and despite the criticism of the 24-year-old this term, he has still scored 10 times, often overlooked in Alvaro Morata’s absence.
LATEST LA LIGA LINK
Diego Simeone has headlined lists for replacements for Conte, but The Times has now placed former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique on top of the pile.
The paper suggests the Italian’s relationship with his bosses has reached breaking point thanks to his constant sniggering over the club’s transfer policy.
He has taken time out since leaving the Camp Nou, and reportedly now heads a hit list involving Simeone and Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri.
It appears former Juve and Italy boss Conte is even foreshadowing his own demise: “If you look at the stats, you can see that, in 14 years, 10 managers were sacked in this club.
“I don’t see a difference between them and me.”
ONE TO WATCH
Finally, The Sun is splashing with the news that Chelsea have all the contingencies in place should Eden Hazard move to Real Madrid.
Yep, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The paper reports the 32-year-old is open to a move to Chelsea given the uncertainty over his Real Madrid future, and that a sentimental and sensational return to the Premier League is unlikely to come via Manchester United.