Chelsea are targeting the Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Presnel Kimpembe after boosting their defensive options by agreeing a €40m (£33.8m) fee with Napoli for Kalidou Koulibaly.
On a hectic day of transfer activity at Chelsea, Raheem Sterling completed his move from Manchester City in a deal worth up to £50m on a contract to 2027. The England forward is in Los Angeles with his new teammates and was described by Todd Boehly, the co-owner, nor “a serial winner”.
Thomas Tuchel is keen to sign three centre-backs and Boehly, has moved swiftly in talks with Napoli over Koulibaly. The 31-year-old is understood to have agreed personal terms on a four-year deal and the transfer should be completed soon. It could be followed by Chelsea, who also hope to sign Nathan Aké from City this week, making a move to buy Kimpembe from PSG, who are believed to be open to selling the France international.
Tuchel is keen to add depth to his defense after losing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger on free transfers. The manager experienced further frustration when Bayern Munich muscled in one of his biggest transfer targets – the Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt – and the signing of Koulibaly will come as a huge relief.
Bayern’s interest in De Ligt forced Chelsea to look elsewhere and they turned to Koulibaly, who has one year left on his deal. The move for the Senegal international represents a significant departure from the previous regime’s reluctance to offer lengthy contracts to players in their 30s. The feeling is that Koulibaly, who will join up with Chelsea in LA to complete his medical on Thursday, will add vital leadership and experience.
The deal is further evidence of the new hierarchy’s determination to give Tuchel funds to rebuild his squad. Chelsea have agreed personal terms with Aké, with City prepared to sell the Netherlands defender if they receive an offer of at least £40m. Kimpembe played at PSG under Tuchel, who is understood to rate him highly. Thiago Silva is also a fan of the 26-year-old, a former PSG teammate. Chelsea have also looked at Sevilla’s Jules Koundé and Torino’s Gleison Bremer.
Sterling’s signing was hailed by Boehly as “an important step in strengthening our squad”. The 27-year-old will train with Chelsea for the first time at UCLA on Wednesday and said he was looking forward to working with Tuchel.
“I’ve obviously achieved a lot in my career so far, but there is still so much more to achieve and I’m really looking forward to doing that in a Chelsea shirt, under Thomas’s management,” he said. “London is my home and where it all started for me, and it’s amazing I now have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family week in, week out at Stamford Bridge. I can’t wait to get going now and continue to do my talking on the pitch.”
Boehly said: “We are delighted for Raheem to return to London with Chelsea, and we look forward to seeing his world-class talent on display at Stamford Bridge.”
Sterling, who began his career at Queens Park Rangers before moving to Liverpool, had earlier thanked City and their supporters in a farewell message on Twitter.
“Seven seasons. Eleven major trophies. A lifetime of memories,” he wrote. “To the coaching staff who have played a massive role in my development over the years. To my teammates who have become more than just those I share a pitch with. To the backroom staff. To the office staff. To the fans who have tirelessly supported the team, and to everyone involved with Manchester City. My respect for you could not be greater.
“What a ride it’s been. I am thankful for the ups and the downs, as it’s the downs that have, at times, tested my strength and resolved and enabled me to stand here in front of you as the best possible version of myself. I arrived in Manchester a 20-year-old. Today, I leave as a man. Thank you for your endless support. It’s been an honor to wear the shirt of Manchester City.”
Chelsea, who could loan Hakim Ziyech to Milan, will look to bring in another forward. Milan’s Rafael Leão and Bayern’s Serge Gnabry are of interest to Tuchel. There is also interest in Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, who wants to join Barcelona, but there are doubts over whether Tuchel will tell Chelsea to bid for Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.