Romain Perrocheau/Getty Images
Chelsea are reportedly ready to make a serious move for Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri this summer but will face stiff competition to land the player.
According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, the Blues are ready to part with £35 million to ensure they land the Ivory Coast international, as they seek to improve their options in the middle of the park.
Cross reported it’s unlikely that Seri will make a quick decision over his future, though, given potential goings on at Chelsea and interest from elsewhere.
“Seri is likely to hold out until he knows who will be Chelsea boss next season, with title-winner Antonio Conte almost certain to leave after two years in charge,” wrote Cross. “Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City have all looked at Seri, who has become one of Europe’s hottest properties.”
It’s also noted that Barcelona were interested in signing Seri ahead of the current campaign, although a £35 million switch eventually fell through.
For the Blues the Nice man is a sensible target, as midfield is an area in which they’ve struggled throughout the course of the campaign. As these numbers from WhoScored.com show, the 26-year-old is someone who boasts the ability to dominate games:
Most touches in a Ligue 1 match since the start of last season: 🥇 J. Seri vs Angers (184, May 2017) 🥈 J. Seri vs Toulouse (162, Feb 2018) 🥉 J. Seri vs Troyes (161, Aug 2017) https://t.co/nUwb21yfnO
In the 2016-17 season Seri was key to Nice putting together a surprise title challenge, as he thrived under the tutelage of manager Lucien Favre.
This season, neither Nice nor Seri have reached the same heights as the previous one. As noted by French football journalist Jeremy Smith, there’s been a big difference in standards this term from the player:
Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98
Presumably the main enquiry is whether they’d be signing 2016-17 Seri or 2017-18 Seri! https://t.co/c5Mm32tHLX
Still, there’s clearly talent there to tap into and for Chelsea, who have struggled in midfield since the departure of Nemanja Matic last summer, Seri would be a smart acquisition.
This season they’ve typically lined up with Cesc Fabregas alongside the irrepressible N’Golo Kante at the heart of the team. However, the former, while still silky smooth on the ball, lacks the energy needed to play in central midfield for an elite side in the Premier League.
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images
Additionally, summer signings Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko have struggled to show what they can offer since arriving. Football writer Liam Canning questioned the Blues’ recruitment earlier in the season:
Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning
Chelsea, once again, absolutely diabolical. Eden Hazard is now their only game changer – he deserves better. Such a huge mistake selling Diego Costa. Mental that it cost them £70m for Bakayoko and Drinkwater, who have been terrible.
The worry for Chelsea is that teams like City and Liverpool will be able to offer Seri UEFA Champions League football next season, not to mention the prospect of working under coaches like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
By contrast, the Blues appear set for a summer of significant upheaval, with a new manager possibly coming in. They are also poised to compete in the UEFA Europa League in 2018-19 too.