By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Tuchel’s ability to coax the best out of defenders is central to Chelsea’s pursuit of Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, the PA news agency understands.
Chelsea are thought to have been encouraged to continue negotiations with Juventus due to the Netherlands defender’s admiration for Blues boss Tuchel.
De Ligt is understood to be keen to work under Tuchel, having seen how the German coach helped the likes of Toni Rudiger thrive at Chelsea.
The Blues have emerged as favourites to sign De Ligt should the 22-year-old leave Juventus this summer, with the Old Lady hierarchy accepting his desire for a new challenge.
Chelsea are thought to be ready to include either Christian Pulisic or Timo Werner in their bid package for De Ligt, with talks with Juventus expected to continue.
De Ligt’s keenness on Chelsea is also thought to have softened Juventus’ stance on a fee, with the Italians aware they cannot hold out for the 38-cap centre-back’s £102million (€117 million) release clause.
Europe’s top clubs have tracked De Ligt ever since he broke through as a precociously talented teenager at Ajax.
Chelsea have long since had eyes on De Ligt, who joined Juventus in 2019, but the Blues are understood only to have acted on that interest since Todd Boehly’s takeover.
Chelsea’s new owners Boehly and Clearlake Capital are determined to reshape the Blues squad in manager Tuchel’s image this summer.
New chairman Boehly has thrust himself to the fore of transfer negotiations as interim sporting director after the regime change radically altered the Stamford Bridge hierarchy.
Chelsea need two centre-backs this summer, after Rudiger’s free-transfer switch to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen’s Barcelona move.
Long-term target Jules Kounde remains on Chelsea’s radar, but Manchester City’s Nathan Ake has also emerged as another target.
The former Blues defender is understood to be of genuine interest to Chelsea, who are known to be pushing hard in tandem on a string of targets.
Chelsea remain hopeful of pulling off a deal to bring Brazil forward Raphinha to Stamford Bridge, with a £60million fee understood to have been struck with Leeds.
Raphinha has long since hoped for a Barcelona move this summer, but Chelsea have agreed a deal with Leeds that the Catalan giants are understood not to be able to match yet while administration and finance problems are being resolved.
Chelsea are thought to continue to push to convince Raphinha to make the Stamford Bridge switch, with Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele facing an anxious wait in the meantime.
Dembele’s Barcelona contract has now expired, and the France international has long hoped for Chelsea to step in with a big-money offer.
Dembele is thought to have an offer on the table from Barcelona, which he will be expected to sign if Raphinha is lured to Chelsea.
A deal for Manchester City’s England forward Raheem Sterling remains in the offing for Chelsea, with all parties thought to be confident of the move going through.