Chelsea’s need to sign a centre back this summer is becoming a big headache for Antonio Conte.
Thus far they have been thwarted in their efforts to sign their main target, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Despite reports last week that the Premier League side were prepared to go as high as £60m to land the 25-year-old defender, the latest from that mooted transfer is that they are currently refusing to go above £40m.
To that end, something of a stand-off has developed between the two sides, leaving Chelsea having to sound out contingency plans.
One such plan, as reported today by Italian reporter Gianluca Di Marzio, is AC Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli. The highly-rated 21-year-old only joined the Rossoneri last summer, arriving in a €25m deal from Roma, but his performances in an otherwise indifferent season for Milan in general have not gone unnoticed.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will be well aware of how gifted Romagnoli is, having watched him for the Italy under-21s during his time as senior manager, but actually prising him away from the San Siro would be a massive task.
Therefore, Di Marzio reports that while Chelsea are in for the defender, and have offered a sum that is not revealed but is reported as “very high”, Milan have told the Blues that Romagnoli is not for sale – not least because of the fact that Roma would be due 30% of any fee over €25m.
Chelsea have previously been linked with a move for Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci and Torino’s Nikola Maksimović, and reports in Italy over the weekend had credited them with an interest in Lazio’s Stefan De Vrij. The Dutch international, however, is still recovering from a serious knee injury, one that forced him to miss almost all of last season, and as such probably won’t be seen as a target by Conte.
With just over a week of the transfer window remaining, it is nearly decision time for Conte. Does he pay Napoli what they want for Koulibaly, or does he brave it out until January (at least) with what he currently has at his disposal?
Romagnoli, however, would appear to be off-limits.