Sarri ‘confident’ of January arrivals at Chelsea as hunt for Higuain & Fabregas successor continues

Maurizio Sarri is confident Chelsea will reinforce their squad in January because he understands director Marina Granovskaia is “working very hard”, with a deal for Gonzalo Higuain almost done.

While most of the Premier League’s biggest clubs look set for a quiet winter transfer window, the same cannot be said of Chelsea.

With Cesc Fabregas already gone and Callum Hudson-Odoi and Alvaro Morata interesting other clubs, Chelsea are also chasing targets of their own.

Higuain’s name has been mentioned particularly prominently, with Goal revealing that the Argentine striker is eager to join on loan from Juventus, having struggled to make much of an impact since signing a similar temporary deal at AC Milan.

Sarri was unable to offer much of an update on the pursuit of Higuain, whom he coached at Napoli, though he is optimistic about their chances of signing players.

“I don’t know, I want to be clear, I can’t help you,” Sarri told reporters ahead of Saturday’s clash with Arsenal. “I spoke to Marina two weeks ago, Marina knows my opinion.

“Then I decided to focus on the pitch, matches, training, so now I am confident because Marina is working very hard, but I don’t know anything about the matter because I only focus on matches.

“I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I spend all my mental energy on the [transfer] market. It’s better I spend my mental energy on the pitch.”

Cesc Fabregas Chelsea 2018-19

Prior to Fabregas’ departure to Monaco, Sarri was adamant he wanted a replacement for the Spaniard in the event he was allowed to leave.

He reiterated his stance after last weekend’s Newcastle win, highlighting Jorginho’s poor performance and saying he would have replaced him with Fabregas if he had still been at the club.

Although Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella and Leandro Paredes of Zenit have been strongly linked, Chelsea still do not have a replacement, though Sarri insists he is not getting frustrated yet.

“You know my opinion about the replacement of Cesc, we need one in my opinion,” Sarri added. “Marina knows my opinion, so I am not frustrated at the moment.”

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Morata is close to joining Atletico Madrid, as revealed by Goal, though for the time being he remains available to Sarri and could play against Arsenal.

“Of course [he can play], but I don’t know if he will play,” he said. “But he is training with us. It’s normal I think.

“Of course, he’s in a very difficult moment, but it’s normal for a player in January to be involved in the [transfer] market.”

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Willian airs Chelsea ‘dream’ to dampen talk of January departure

Willian admits it was a “dream to come to play for Chelsea”, with such statements suggesting that he will not be going anywhere in the January transfer window.

A move away from Stamford Bridge has been mooted for the Brazilian, with various landing spots offered up.

Barcelona have been credited with holding an interest in the 30-year-old for some time and are in the market for attacking reinforcements after parting with Munir.

Willian, though, has already moved to quash the exit speculation by declaring after a recent 2-1 victory over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge that “my future is here”.

Chelsea would be understandably reluctant to part with a man who recorded a personal best goal return of 13 last season and has delivered a further five efforts and as many assists this term.

They would appear to have little to worry about, with a man snapped up from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013 reiterating how happy he is in west London and how much he has enjoyed a spell with the Blues.

“It was my dream to come to play for Chelsea,” Willian told the club’s official website.

“I knew Chelsea had made some offers while I was at Shakhtar so when I eventually arrived here, after a short spell with Anzhi Makhachkala, it was amazing.

“Having David Luiz, Oscar and Ramires here when I joined was very important for me because they helped me a lot with the language and inside the club, so it was very helpful.

“I told myself I had to start again because at Shakhtar I had my position and I always played. Everyone knew about my profile and how I played.

“I knew I had to start from zero to prove myself because it was a new club, new team-mates, new fans, and we had Jose Mourinho who was a big manager. He gave me a lot of confidence to show my quality.”

Willian

Willian has gone on to take in more than 260 appearances for Chelsea and is one goal short of reaching a half-century.

He has also tasted two Premier League title triumphs, an FA Cup success and League Cup win during his time in England.

“To win the Premier League is not easy,” he added.

“For me it’s the best league in the world and when I won it for the first time in 2014-15 the feeling was unbelievable.

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“But you cannot stop. In football you always have to continue. Chelsea always want to win trophies.”

The Blues are currently in the process of chasing down more major honours.

They have a one-goal deficit to overturn in a Carabao Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham, while they are also through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and the last 32 of the Europa League.

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Everton midfielder Gueye wishes Niasse goodluck after Cardiff City move

Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye has wished Oumar Niasse goodluck after completing Cardiff City loan move.

On Friday, the Senegal international sealed the deal with the Bluebirds in a bid to earn playing time having failed to get regular paying time under Marco Silva at Goodison Park.

This season, the former Lokomotiv Moscow striker has only made seven appearances in all competitions, starting only once.

And after the successful transfer, the 29-year-old midfielder has taken to the social media to wish his compatriot all the best.

“Good luck my bro,” Gueye tweeted.

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Niasse could make his debut when Cardiff City travel to St. James’ Park to take on Newcastle United in Saturday’s Premier League game.

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Man City considering new left-back signing as Guardiola confirms ‘three or four’ midfield targets

Pep Guardiola says he has identified “three or four” transfer targets capable of replacing Fernandinho in the Manchester City midfield, and says he could also sign a new left-back.

Guardiola confirmed ahead of Monday’s win over Wolves that finding an alternative to the Brazil international would be an “important target” ahead of next season.

The Catalan also spoke at length about the difficulty of finding suitable players, especially as City are unwilling to spend £100 million to do so. 

“It’s so difficult to find,” he said of players with Fernandinho’s profile. “He knows the Premier League, after three years together here, he knows everything and that’s so important.”

City pursued Jorginho last summer and have still not given up hope of signing Frenkie De Jong from Ajax while it is understood they are also keeping tabs on Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele and Wolves’ Ruben Neves, among others.

That represents a broad spread of players with differing strengths and weaknesses, and speaking at his Friday press conference Guardiola outlined exactly what he is looking for.

“We need a guy who has physicality, can read where our spaces are to attack,” he said. “As many things as he can do, the better. It’s not easy to find one player who can do everything.”

Asked if he has identified anybody capable of fitting the bill, he replied: “Yeah we’ve seen many. There are three or four we are looking at, searching for that position.”

Guardiola also confirmed that City are considering the signing of a new left-back, although he insisted that his side have coped well without Benjamin Mendy, who missed most of last season and much of this.

Benjamin Mendy Manchester City

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Goal understands that the City boss is especially keen to sign an alternative to Mendy, with Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell among the list of options.

“We survived well last season, this season too,” he said of Mendy. “But we are thinking about that yeah. I cannot assure you as I’m delighted with the players I have, but we are going to look at that option.”

Mendy has already had several training sessions and is now building up his fitness ahead of a return to the first team.

The France international had surgery on a meniscus injury at the end of last year, having already missed part of the season with a foot problem.
 

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Wilson yet to attract offers amid Chelsea links & talk of £75m asking price

Bournemouth have not received any offers for England international Callum Wilson, says manager Eddie Howe.

Wilson has been linked with a move to Chelsea, with Blues assistant Gianfranco Zola having confirmed the club’s interest in the striker, while West Ham and Tottenham have also been suggested as potential suitors.

But Wilson, who has hit nine Premier League goals so far this season, is going nowhere according to Howe.

“We’ve had no interest in any of our players,” Howe told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against West Ham.

“Everything has just been speculation, which you [the media] understand as this is the month for it.

“From my perspective and the team we have above me, we are always working together to try and find solutions to make the squad stronger and continue to move the team forward.

“They’re the main things. We’ll do that again, like we have done through the process that we’ve been together, for the benefit of Bournemouth.

“No interest or no actual enquiries? No, nothing.”

Callum Wilson Bournemouth Premier League

Chelsea are close to concluding the signing of Gonzalo Higuain, as revelaed by Goal, with the Argentine frontman having previously played for Blues boss Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.

That deal would likely end any interest in Wilson, who is reportedly valued by Bournemouth as high as £75 million ($97m).

“I don’t want to place any more pressure on Callum or any of my players by talking about things that aren’t important,” Howe added.

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“What’s important is Callum working hard for the team and producing his best performances on a consistent basis.

“For him to be thinking about transfer fees, values and other clubs, I would recommend he focuses on Bournemouth.”

Bournemouth have added to their squad this month with the arrivals of Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool.

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