Chelsea are ready to sign Frenkie de Jong and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang if Barcelona allow both players to leave this month.
Manchester United agreed a £72m fee to sign De Jong last month but he is owed £17m in deferred wages and will not agree to leave until he is paid. Barcelona want him to stay but only if he agrees to take a significant pay cut and accept a £6m settlement for his deferred wages.
Chelsea are willing to match United’s £72m offer and unlike United, they can offer De Jong Champions League football.
Aubameyang moved to Barcelona on a free transfer from Arsenal in January. He has three years left on his contract. Although Thomas Tuchel has been reluctant to talk about Aubameyang in public he is keen to work again with a player who scored 79 goals for him in two seasons at Borussia Dortmund.
Tuchel’s priority is to sign a centre-back and a forward this month and Chelsea are increasingly confident that they can agree a deal to sign Leicester defender Wesley Fofana and are preparing a third offer. Leicester do not want to sell Fofana but they would find it difficult to turn down an offer close to £80m.
Meanwhile Inter Milan are asking Chelsea to pay £12m for 19-year-old midfielder Cesare Casadei – even though he has not yet played for their first team.
Chelsea have a twin-track approach of buying players for now and the future this summer. Last week they signed 18-year-old midfielder Carney Chukwuemeka from Aston Villa in a £20m deal. They have also signed 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire and 18-year-old winger Omari Hutchinson from Arsenal.
Man United work on all midfield options
Manchester United, meanwhile, have continued to work on all midfield options as a deal for De Jong has been a complicated one to do.
United have not given up on de Jong and there is still a belief there is a deal to be done. Central midfield has been a priority position all summer for United, who have a broad agreement in principle for the signing of Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot. Signing both Rabio and De Jong has not been ruled out.