Chelsea want Jude Bellingham despite £600m transfer spend
Chelsea have not been put off trying to convince Jude Bellingham to consider a move to Stamford Bridge, despite spending over £600million in the past two transfer windows and facing a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham will get another chance to impress his suitors in Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 first-leg tie against Chelsea in Germany.
There is a recognition within Chelsea that they are not among the favourites to sign Bellingham, who is also a target of Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid, and missing out on qualification for the Champions League would make their task even harder.
But that will not stop Chelsea doing everything in their power to make themselves part of the conversation over Bellingham in the summer, when the midfielder is expected to leave Dortmund, and the club are expected to keep open the lines of communication to the teenager’s advisors.
Co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali have worked hard to establish contacts and relationships with representatives of Bellingham since taking charge at Chelsea and quickly identified the England international as a top target.
Boehly and Eghbali were at England’s first World Cup game against Iran in Qatar to see Bellingham score and produce a brilliant performance, and it is believed they would be prepared to move heaven and earth to try to sign him.
Chelsea broke the British record to sign Enzo Fernandez for £106m, but are expected to try to sign another central midfielder in the summer with West Ham United’s Declan Rice and Brighton’s Moises Caicedo still targets.
Bellingham tops that list, but Liverpool, Madrid and City are all thought to be better placed to sign the 19-year-old at this stage.
Chelsea could still face Financial Fair Play issues this summer if they fail to qualify for the Champions League, but the club are planning a clear-out which could involve selling some homegrown players to boost their FFP position.
Whether or not that would be enough to accommodate Bellingham, who is valued at around £100m and would command wages in excess of £200,000-a-week, remains to be seen.
But Chelsea have not been put off in their desire to bid for him and try to sell the project of Boehly and Eghbali to those around the player, with the club expected to try to hold further talks.
Arsenal are currently considered favourites to land Declan Rice
Dortmund have not yet given up hope of keeping Bellingham for one more season with Liverpool’s struggles and City’s Premier League charges over financial rules casting some doubt over their bids to land the player.
Currently 10th in the Premier League table and 10 points behind fourth-placed Newcastle United, Chelsea’s best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League might be to win this year’s tournament.
That may seem fanciful, but captain Cesar Azpilicueta said: “I’m not surprised we are not the favourites to win the Champions League from the outside, but what counts is on the pitch and we have to show that we deserve to be in the next round and then build up from there. But the reality is on the pitch and it’s up to us to be ready for the challenge.”
Arsenal are currently considered favourites to land Rice, while the Gunners could also provide competition for Caicedo after failing with two bids for the Ecuador international in the January transfer window.