Chelsea Will Have to Pay Club-Record Fee to Sign Wilfried Zaha in January

​Chelsea will reportedly have to pay £80m if they wish to sign Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha in January. 

The Blues were prevented from registering new players in the summer, but while be free to enter the market again next month after having their FIFA transfer ban reduced to just window by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

One player on their wishlist is Zaha but the ​Evening Standard report that the west Londoners will have to pay what would be a club-record fee in order to secure his services. The most the Blues have previously paid for a player is £72m for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in 2018.

Wilfried Zaha

The Ivory Coast international attempted to force a move away from Selhurst Park in August but clubs were largely put off by Palace’s £80m price tag.

Despite only Arsenal making a formal approach for the player in the summer, the Eagles do not look likely to lower their asking price. 

The uncertainty surrounding his future seems to have affected Zaha as the winger has had a pretty underwhelming season so far. 

Although his is the club’s top earner, the 27-year-old has managed just two assists and two goals.

In spite of this patchy form, Frank Lampard revealed earlier this week that the club is on the lookout for a Eden Hazard replacement – and Zaha could fit the bill. 

Frank Lampard

It is quite clear in the summer we lost Eden Hazard who has been a huge part of scoring and creating for us in the last few seasons. We need more competition in those creative areas,” ​Lampard said after the Blues beat Lille on Tuesday night. 

As well as looking to sign a new forward, ​Chelsea are also said to be looking to sign a defender and a central midfielder. 

In recent times ​Nathan Áke has been linked with a return to Stamford Bridge, while the club were also sensationally said to be ​’sounding out’ a move for Neymar or Kylian Mbappe earlier in the week. 


For more from Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter!

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Champions League 2019/20: The Team of the Group Stages

​So, we now know the 16 clubs who will battle it out in this season’s Champions League knockout stages, with the draw for the next round taking place on Monday 16 December.

There were some surprises in the groups, a fair few wonder goals, and plenty of memorable moments. Inter and Ajax are the high-profile casualties who didn’t quite make it to the next phase of the tournament, while debutantes Atalanta came back from the dead to book their place in the last 16.


Here’s our ​Champions League team of the group stages.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Marc Andre Ter Stegen

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK) – On his return to Germany, ter Stegen was immense as he single-handedly denied ​Borussia Dortmund victory at Signal Iduna Park. The ​Barcelona keeper proved his class this year, conceding only three goals in the six games.

Achraf Hakimi (RB) – BVB made it to the knockouts, despite a testing start to the campaign, with Hakimi’s performances integral in sealing their progression. He hit crucial doubles in wins over ​Inter and Slavia, without which the Bundesliga side would have been dead and buried.

Dayot Upamecano (CB) – RB Leipzig reached the last 16 for the first time in their history, and they can thank Timo Werner and Upamecano for that. The frontman was electric up top, though Die Roten Bullen needed the intimidating presence of their leading centre-back to guide them through an awkward group.

Kalidou Koulibaly (CB) – What’s left to say about this man? He’s a monstrous force of nature at the back for ​Napoli and was once again a standout figure for the Italians. Unsurprisingly, Koulibably was a titan in Carlo Ancelotti’s defence.

Cesar Azpilicueta (LB) – When ​Chelsea needed him most, their captain stepped up. Azpilicueta was the one who got the Blues back into the contest in their mind-boggling 4-4 draw with Ajax, before he gave them breathing space in the decisive 2-1 defeat of Lille on Tuesday as Frank Lampard’s men edged into the next round.


Midfielders

Serge Gnabry

Serge Gnabry (RM) – ​Tottenham Hotspur would have been dreading the thought of facing Serge Gnabry for a second time this season after the winger hit them for four in north London. He couldn’t add any more to his tally, but that devastating display in October will live long in the memory.

Frenkie De Jong (CM) – People thought Barça were taking a gamble when they forked out €75m for de Jong last summer. The Catalans knew there was no risk in the purchase, and the Dutchman has repaid their faith, looking like a superb playmaker in the heart of Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 2018/19 was a year of personal frustration for Oxlade-Chamberlain as he worked his way back from a serious knee injury. He’s been making up for lost time this term, making the most of his three ​Champions League appearances by scoring three goals, with his second against Genk arguably the goal of the tournament so far.

Hakim Ziyech (LM) – Sadly for Ajax, their journey ends here. Sadder still is the fact we won’t get to see the virtuoso talents of Ziyech, who racked up five assists and netted twice fir Ajax in Group H. he continued where he’d left off last campaign, mesmerising viewers with his effortless playmaking ability.


Forwards

Erling Haland

Robert Lewandowski (ST) – As if anyone else was going to spearhead the attack. Lewandowski truly came into his own this autumn, which is strange given his strong record over the last decade. However, he’s never reached the level he’s at now, hitting ten goals in only five appearances to top the scoring charts.

Erling Haaland (ST) – Just two goals behind Lewandowski is Red Bull Salzburg wonderkid Erling Haaland. It was a breakthrough campaign for the 19-year-old, with his domineering displays up front catching the attention of every big club in Europe. He can pretty much choose where he wants to play next.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter

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American Billionaire Todd Boehly Set to Return With Fresh Bid to Buy Chelsea

​American billionaire Todd Boehly is considering launching a fresh approach to buy Chelsea, despite owner Roman Abramovich’s insistence that the Blues are not for sale.

The Russian, who was thought to be open to selling the club during the summer, recently ​rejected an big-money offer from Boehly as he is now determined to remain in control of 

Chelsea.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SUNDERLAND-TROPHY

However, according to​ The Telegraph, Boehly has not been scared off and is instead considering a new bid, which may have to reach £3bn to convince Abramovich to even consider selling.

Senior Chelsea officials are adamant the club is not for sale, but Boehly still wants to test his luck. The Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner, who previously failed in a move to buy Tottenham Hotspur, is not working to any time frame and is prepared to wait for the perfect moment to launch a new bid.

One date given is 31 March 2020, which is when Chelsea’s initial planning permission for their new stadium complex will expire. 

Chelsea FC v West Ham United - Premier League

The building work was put on hold in May and there certainly does not look like any hope of the work being started by that deadline. Abramovich could choose to try and obtain fresh planning permission, but if he opts against doing so, it would only encourage Boehly in his pursuit of the Blues.

Speaking to ​Bloomberg back in September, Boehly explained why he is keen on buying an English side.

“Football’s the biggest sport in the world, the passion the fans have for the sport and the teams is unparalleled,” Boehly said. “So what you are trying to build with these teams, you are really trying to a) win and b) be part of the community.

“The opportunity we had with the Dodgers was really about part-ownership with Los Angeles, how are we going to win, how are we going to drive championships and how are we going to build passion. If you look at what the Premier League offers, it’s all of those things.

Frank Lampard

“One of the great things the Premier League has is that it’s on a Saturday morning in America. So you have an uncongested time slot that is now fully dominated by the Premier League. NBC has done an amazing job bringing that content.

“When I was growing up, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, but certainly I didn’t know about ​Manchester United, I didn’t know about Chelsea, I didn’t know about Tottenham. Kids these days are fully aware of what’s the best and the Premier League is the best. I continue to believe there is global opportunity for the best clubs.”


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Chelsea vs Bournemouth Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Chelsea host Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon as the Blues look to bounce back from three defeats in their last four Premier League games. 

Another loss could allow fifth placed Manchester United to close the gap on Frank Lampard’s side to just two points.

The Cherries also come into the game in poor form. Eddie Howe’s side have lost five games on the bounce since beating ​Manchester United last month and are just one point clear of the relegation places. 

Here’s 90min’s preview of the game. 


Where to Watch

​When Is Kick Off?  ​Saturday 14 December
​What Time Is Kick Off?  ​15:00 (GMT)
​Where Is it Played? ​Stamford Bridge
​TV Channel/Live Stream ​N/A
​Referee?  ​Graham Scott

Team News

​​Chelsea will be without long term absentee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with Lampard this week admitting that he was not sure when the England international would be returning.

Olivier Giroud and Fikayo Tomori are doubtful and both players missed the Blues’ 2-1 victory against Lille on Tuesday. 

Fikayo Tomori

Bournemouth’s injury crisis continues and got worse last weekend when Nathan Aké limped off against Liverpool with a hamstring injury. 

As well as Aké, Howe will be without eight other first team players on Saturday, including Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels and Josh King. 

The Cherries got even more bad news this week, with David Brooks being ​ruled out for another three weeks following a second operation on his injured ankle. 


Predicted Lineups

​Chelsea Kepa; James, Zouma, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Kante, Kovacic, Mount; Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Pulisic.
Bournemouth ​Ramsdale; Smith, Mepham, Simpson, Rico; Groeneveld, Lerma, Billing, Fraser; Solanke, Wilson.

Head to Head Record

​This will be the 16th meeting between the two sides in all competitions and the ninth in the Premier League. 

Bournemouth have won just four of the fixtures while Chelsea have won 11. There has remarkably never been a draw. 

FBL-ENG-PR-BOURNEMOUTH-CHELSEA

In their most recent meeting, the Cherries romped to a ​shock 4-0 victory, with a second half brace from Josh King and a goal each from Charlie Daniels and David Brooks securing the three points. 


Recent Form

​After a run of six straight wins was put to an end by Manchester City in November, Chelsea have been in underwhelming form. 

Since that trip to the Etihad, Lampard’s side have fallen to defeats against West Ham and Everton, though they did secure Champions League last 16 qualification on Tuesday by beating Lille 2-1. 

Christian Pulisic

Bournemouth are also struggling, having lost a shocking five games in a row since their ​famous victory over Manchester United in early November. 

​Newcastle, ​Wolves, ​Tottenham, ​Crystal Palace and most recently, ​Liverpool, have all put the Cherries to the sword in recent weeks and Howe’s side have been dragged into the relegation battle. 

Here is both side’s last five results:  

Chelsea Bournemouth​
Chelsea 2-1 Lille (10/12) Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool (7/12)
​Everton 3-1 Chelsea (7/12) ​Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth (3/12)
Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (4/12) ​Tottenham 3-2 Bournemouth (30/11)
Chelsea 0-1 West Ham (30/11) Bournemouth 1-2 Wolves (23/11)
​Valencia 2-2 Chelsea (27/11) ​Newcastle 2-1 Bournemouth (9/11)

Prediction

FBL-EUR-C1-CHELSEA-LILLE

​Injury problems continue to haunt Bournemouth this season and it’s unlikely that they’ll have enough defensive steel to temper the inevitable Chelsea barrage. The Blues will secure a fairly comfortable win. 

Prediction: Chelsea 4-2 Bournemouth 


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Chelsea Step Up Interest in Wilfried Zaha Ahead of January Transfer Window

​Chelsea are ready to act on their interest in Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha in the upcoming January transfer window, with Frank Lampard keen to add reinforcements in attacking areas.

The Blues’ transfer ban was lifted after their appeal was accepted, meaning the west London outfit are free to sign players when the winter window opens on 1 January.

Following ​Chelsea sealing their place in the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday with victory over Lille, Lampard hinted that he may seek to add firepower to his squad, having never fully replaced Eden Hazard following his move to Real Madrid.


After the 2-1 win, Lampard ​said: “It is quite clear in the summer we lost Eden Hazard who has been a huge part of scoring and creating for us in the last few seasons. We need more competition in those creative areas.”

Christian Pulisic has impressed since coming into the side this season, but rumours surrounding ​Zaha moving to Stamford Bridge have lingered. ​The Guardian have since gone one better now, claiming that Chelsea are ready to ‘step up’ their interest in the Ivorian, alongside AFC Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake.

With a reported £150m budget to play with, a move for Zaha is seemingly affordable, with Palace unwilling to budge on the £80m price tag that saw moves to Everton and Arsenal fail to materialise over the summer. It would see a significant chunk of their finances parted with, however, especially as former player Ake would command a fee of £40m, due to a buy-back clause the Blues inserted into his Cherries deal.

It is added in the report that Chelsea will hope to use Olivier Giroud as a potential makeweight in any deal, with the Frenchman eager to leave the club in the coming window in order to seek regular playing time ahead of Euro 2020.

Wilfried Zaha

Nevertheless, Zaha is under contract until 2023 and the Eagles will likely fight to the wire to secure their star man, whose form has picked up following an indifferent start to the ​Premier League season. Should he leave, however, Palace are keen on Burnley’s Dwight McNeil.

This pair aren’t the only names on the club’s wishlist. Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, CSKA Moscow’s Fyodor Chalov, Lyon’s Moussa Dembélé and Red Bull Leipzig’s Timo Werner are also mentioned by the Guardian, although the quartet would be significantly harder to lure mid-season.

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