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Tiemoue Bakayoko‘s proposed move to Chelsea from AS Monaco is reportedly “likely to happen” this summer, as he’s said to have chosen the west Londoners over both Manchester United and Manchester City.
French newspaper L’Equipe (h/t Sport Witness) reported Bakayoko’s decision was made after the Blues started to move on to other targets, and manager Antonio Conte is thought to be a key reason behind his choice.
The Manchester clubs may hold out some hope to cut a deal for that reason, however, following reports Conte could quit the Blues following a disagreement with the club’s board over transfers, per Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.
The recent acceleration in movement between the two parties also appears to have been influenced by Bayern Munich’s recent capture of Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso, per Goal’s Mohammed Ali:
Mohammed Ali @mohammedali_93
Chelsea likely to focus on Bakayoko now – previously put off by many intermediaries in discussions, but now that doesn’t seem to be an issue
Chelsea already have a pair of capable, combative central midfielders in N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, although Bakayoko would provide another presence capable of holding his own in an anchored role.
As for Conte’s position at the club reportedly being in jeopardy, Chelsea have since responded to rumours of a rift between him and the board, per ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
Chelsea are not taking yesterday’s Conte reports at all seriously & insist he has no issues with the club’s strategy or structure #cfc
That development will come as music to the ears of Bakayoko if reports of his preference to work alongside the Italian are true, with Conte having stormed his way to the Premier League title during his first season in England.
Monaco have already sold star playmaker Bernardo Silva to Manchester City and were always likely to attract major interest after winning last term’s Ligue 1 crown, with Bakayoko also drawing attention following his displays.
The 22-year-old started in 44 of his 51 appearances across all competitions, starring as one of a number of young guns who proved once again that you can win trophies with kids.
However, Monaco will want to hold on to a certain amount of their assets instead of conducting a summer fire sale immediately after winning the league, and L’Equipe (h/t Sport Witness) reported another holding midfielder could leave:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
In their look at Monaco transfers, L’Equipe say Fabinho could go, but don’t mention Manchester United this time.
Just what starting prospects Bakayoko would have at Chelsea are up for debate, as his arrival would create competition with Matic to say the least, while Kante is largely considered undroppable under Conte.
That being said, the Blues appear to have played their cards right after reportedly convincing the France international a move to Stamford Bridge is for him, while City and United will need to divert their interest elsewhere.