Chelsea have made a move to sign Kalidou Koulibaly and could still try to add Presnel Kimpbembe to Thomas Tuchel’s defensive options.
Tuchel ideally wants to sign three new defenders this summer and co-owner Todd Boehly has opened negotiations with Napoli regarding Koulibaly, having already agreed personal terms with Nathan Ake, who Chelsea still hope to sign.
Despite talks advancing over Koulibaly and Ake, Chelsea remain interested in Kimpembe, who Tuchel managed at Paris Saint-Germain, while Joules Kounde is still on the club’s radar.
Bayern Munich are now favorites to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Juventus, which is likely to have accelerated Chelsea’s interest in Koulibaly.
Ake, who Chelsea remain optimistic of signing if they can agree to a fee with Manchester City, they are yet to agree to personal terms with Koulibaly while a fee has not been finalized.
But with only one year remaining on the player’s Napoli contract, there is optimism on all sides that a £34million move for Koulibaly can be completed, with Chelsea prepared to offer him a three-year contract with an option of an extra 12 months.
Raheem Sterling will be announced as Chelsea’s first signing of the Boehly/Clearlake era after flying to LA on Tuesday to join his new team-mates in the United States.
Chelsea’s move for Koubaliy would be endorsed by goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who is a Senegal international team-mate of the 31-year-old.
Koulibaly has previously described Mendy as being “the best goalkeeper in the word” and the Chelsea man is believed to think equally highly of the 31-year-old.
The arrival of Koulibaly, together with Ake, would cover for the loss of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. The fact Mendy and Koulibaly are international team-mates should ensure they could quickly summarize that understanding at Chelsea.
“We just need time,” Mendy said. “It is like this every year when you change clubs and new players come. We just need time to learn from each other and we are starting the new season. We have players here, so we will work with the players who are present with us today and let’s see what will happen.”
The departures of Rudiger and Christensen are not the only significant exits to impact Mendy this summer, as the men he credits for his Chelsea career, Petr Cech and Christophe Lollichon, have also left the club.
“Without Pete and Christophe, I don’t think I would be at Chelsea so I will always be grateful to them and the best way to make them proud is to be the best I possibly can on the pitch, just doing my job,” said Mendy.
“I think everybody knows my relationship with Pete and also Christophe. It’s their decision to leave and we just have to respect that and continue the work to make them proud. Put in the work and make them happy to see me on the pitch.
“I left it one or two days (before speaking to Cech) because I know his phone would go crazy. I called him and we had a discussion. I respect his choice of him and we just move forward.”
Signing three new defenders could impact the future of Cesar Azpilicueta, who is waiting to find out whether or not Tuchel will allow him to leave this summer.