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Chelsea owner Abramovich set to intervene in Tuchel and Granovskaia’s transfer dilemma

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Roman Abramovich could play a significant role in Chelsea’s pursuit of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde this summer.

With the Russian billionaire expected to assist Marina Granovskaia in pushing through a move, according to reports.

Kounde has been heavily linked with the Blues this summer as Thomas Tuchel gears up for a renewed Premier League title challenge.

The German boss has transformed Chelsea’s fortunes at the back since taking charge of the club in January.

Tuchel’s side conceded just once during the Champions League knockout stages on their way to European glory last season.

However, the 47-year-old is keen on adding further quality to his back three as Chelsea look to follow up with a first domestic triumph in five years.

Kounde is believed to be a priority target for the Blues, with the Sevilla man understood to have spoken to the club regarding the possibility of a move.

Reports have suggested that Chelsea have already agreed personal terms with the Frenchman, but the proposed move appears to have stalled in recent days.

The European champions are close to finalising the club-record signing of Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku, a development which is said to be responsible for holding up proceedings with regards to Kounde.

The situation has been credited with sparking an internal dilemma at Chelsea, with Tuchel and club director Granovskaia at odds over what to do next, according to Spanish outlet Orgullo De Nervion.

The report claims that Tuchel is continuing to stress the importance of landing a new centre-back this summer, with Kounde his preferred option.

However, Granovskaia is believed to be wary of overspending after committing to a fee in the region of £97million for Lukaku.

Sevilla are reportedly demanding around £60m for Kounde, with Chelsea said to be keen on driving down his asking price over the coming weeks.

They are widely believed to have already seen at least one player-plus-cash offer rejected by the La Liga heavyweights this summer.

The hope in west London is that Abramovich will analyse the situation in detail before stepping in to find a solution that works in the club’s best interests.

The Blues owner bankrolled an unprecedented summer of upheaval last time around, with Chelsea spending £222m on the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.

It remains to be seen whether Abramovich will be prepared to fund a move for Kounde alongside the capture of Lukaku, who is poised to return to Stamford Bridge after a seven-year absence, ahead of this month’s transfer deadline.

The Sevilla defender recently fuelled suggestions that Chelsea could be his next destination by admitting that he is toying with the idea of a new challenge.

“Regarding my future, it’s certain that I will perhaps have to change clubs this summer,” Kounde told reporters back in May.

“But nothing has been finalised yet. I have not decided anything. My goal is to play for a big club, to try to always progress and to win trophies.

“It’s true that I might have to move, but that’s not relevant today.”

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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