Sport

Chelsea close to £50m deal for Manchester City target Marc Cucurella

Chelsea are closing in on the signing of Marc Cucurella after telling Brighton they are willing to pay £50m for the left-back. Manchester City’s reluctance to meet Brighton’s asking price for Cucurella, who handed in a transfer request last week, has given Chelsea hope. Thomas Tuchel is a big fan of the Spaniard and Chelsea scouted the 24-year-old extensively while he was at Getafe.

Cucurella, who joined Brighton last summer, is keen to develop his game and challenge for the highest honours. Chelsea have sounded him out and there is hope the transfer will be agreed. Brighton could ask for the 19-year-old Chelsea centre-back Levi Colwill to be included in a deal.

Tuchel wants to rebuild his defence. Along with bolstering his options at centre-back, Chelsea’s head coach is keen to provide Ben Chilwell with quality competition on the left. Cucurella, who can play as a left-back and left wing-back, is strong defensively, dynamic in possession and keen to get forward. He could also slot in as a left centre-back, allowing Tuchel to fit Cucurella and Chilwell in the same side.

City want a left-back but their first two bids for the Barcelona youth product were turned down.

If Chelsea sign Cucurella that could pave the way for Marcos Alonso to complete a move to Barcelona. The 31-year-old left wing-back wants to return to Spain. There are also doubts over the future of César Azpilicueta, another Barça target.

Azpilicueta’s situation is likely to depend on whether Chelsea can bring in more centre-backs after the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rüdiger. They have signed Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli, but missed out on Jules Koundé, Nathan Aké and Matthijs de Ligt.

Chelsea are interested in signing Wesley Fofana but Leicester are reluctant to sell the centre-back. It could take a bid of about £85m to land Fofana. RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol remains a target.

Chelsea, who also want the right wing-back Denzel Dumfries from Internazionale, could also need a No 2 goalkeeper if they send Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan to Napoli. The Germany forward Timo Werner is a loan target for Newcastle, Leipzig and Juventus. Leipzig are pushing for Werner, with Chelsea asking about Gvardiol in return.

The arrival of defensive reinforcements could see Chelsea loan out Malang Sarr. The French centre-back has been targeted by Fulham, but it is understood that a club in Ligue 1 are leading the race to sign him.

Chelsea are close to signing the 18-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire and would allow him to return on loan.