Chelsea ace Ross Barkley could have been next Steven Gerrard, says ex-Everton defender

Ross Barkley could have become the best English midfielder since Steven Gerrard, according to ex-Everton defender Mark Hughes. The 33-year-old claims Barkley had the potential to match the Liverpool legend both domestically and internationally but the Chelsea ace is yet to fulfil that promise.

Barkley came through the Everton youth system, making his senior debut as a 17-year-old at the start of the 2011/12 season.

The playmaker went on to feature 179 times for the Toffees but his development stalled before a controversial £15million move to Chelsea in January 2018.

Barkley has struggled to nail down a first-team spot at Stamford Bridge and Hughes, who currently plays for Accrington Stanley, believes the midfielder had some of his natural flair coached out of him following his breakthrough.

Comparing Barkley’s teenage development to that of another Everton prodigy, Hughes told Tribalfootball.com: “If Wayne Rooney was playing at that age now, I’m not saying it would get taken out of him, but I look at someone like Ross Barkley when he was at Everton, and he came in a bit of a street footballer, but I think managers and even fans they sort of take that out of them.

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“I love when a young lad comes through, and he was the one who I thought could be the next Steven Gerrard for Everton.

“You could have built a team around him. I thought he could’ve been the best midfielder England had since Steven Gerrard.

“But because the way he played, he used to run with the ball and sometimes he’d get it taken off him. That’s the hardest part of football – taking people on.

“Then the fans would get on his back because he’d given it away. He just started passing it.”

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Hughes progressed through the academy at Everton and made three senior appearances for the Goodison Park outfit before leaving for Northampton Town in 2007.

The defender has since played for a host of Football League clubs while also enjoying a brief spell with North Queensland Fury in Australia.

Now a regular at Accrington, Hughes reveals a frustration that Barkley has not been able to do more with his obvious ability and emulate the success of Liverpool icon Gerrard.

“He just had that little street footballer taken out of him,” he said.

“I like to watch things as a neutral now, I do support Everton but now I watch the two teams tactically when I go to games.

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“And he was the one when I think to myself I felt sorry for him a little bit, even though he’s earning £100k a week at Chelsea.

“He could’ve been Everton’s Rooney, that local lad coming through.”

Barkley is yet to fully convince the Chelsea supporters of his talents, despite notching up 72 appearances for the Blues in all competitions since his move south.

The 26-year-old is behind N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho and Mason Mount in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, although eye-catching performances before the coronavirus lockdown drew praise from manager Frank Lampard.

Barkley has won the FA Cup and Europa League since moving to Chelsea but has some way to go in order to match Gerrard’s trophy haul while he is 81 caps shy of his fellow Scouser’s international tally.

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Source: RB Hyde agrees to deal with Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks and running back Carlos Hyde have reached an agreement on a one-year deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

Hyde, who turns 30 in September, scored six touchdowns and ran for a career-best 1,070 yards on 245 carries for the Houston Texans last season and played in all 16 games for the second time in his career.

However, he and fellow back Lamar Miller both hit free agency and the Texans went on to acquire David Johnson from the Arizona Cardinals in a blockbuster trade for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Texans acquired Hyde from the Kansas City Chiefs last year in a trade on cutdown day in exchange for offensive lineman Martinas Rankin. Houston made the move a week after Miller tore his ACL in Houston’s third preseason game.

Over the past three seasons, Hyde has played for the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Texans.

He has 5,079 total yards and 35 total touchdowns in six seasons.

ESPN’s Sarah Barshop contributed to this report.

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Chelsea braced for Kepa Arrizabalaga transfer bid from Valencia – but there’s a catch

Chelsea are preparing for Valencia to make a bid to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga this summer, according to reports in Spain. Arrizabalaga has been tipped to leave Stamford Bridge this summer after a reported falling-out with boss Frank Lampard.

Arrizabalaga was dropped earlier this season and replaced with Willy Caballero.

The Spaniard had made multiple mistakes and was blamed for conceding several goals.

After he was dropped, it was suggested that the £72million man could be on his way out.

Athletic Bilbao had reportedly expressed an interest, but were unwilling to fork out for him.

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And now, it appears that Valencia have entered into the race to sign him.

Spanish outlet SPORT claims the La Liga side are interested in buying the 24-year-old in the upcoming transfer window.

Valencia goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen looks set to leave the Mestalla this summer, and Arrizabalaga is being eyed up as a potential replacement.

They are also, however, interested in buying Barcelona’s Neto, and it seems the Brazilian’s future could impact what happens with Arrizabalaga. 

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Neto left Valencia for Barca last summer, but has only made one appearance in the league since making the switch.

He has reportedly told Barcelona that he wants to stay at the Nou Camp despite interest from elsewhere.

The 30-year-old will likely receive multiple offers for his services in the summer, but is desperate to stay at the club and fight for his place.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in the world during his time at the Nou Camp, and is unlikely to go anywhere.

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Speaking earlier this month, Arrizabalaga insisted he wants to stay at Chelsea despite interest from elsewhere.

He declared that he still has the full support of Lampard regardless of their rumoured bust-up.

“The relationship with Frank is very good. He has shown me confidence from the first moment,” he said.

“I want to win everything with Chelsea and with the national team.”

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Briscoe ends heartbreaking week with Xfinity win

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Chase Briscoe capped a heartbreaking week by winning the Xfinity Series’ return to action at Darlington Raceway on Thursday.

Briscoe was in the Darlington infield Tuesday awaiting the race’s original start when he digitally joined his wife, Marissa, for a 12-week exam for their expected baby. The couple heard the tragic news: There was no fetal heartbeat. “The worst news I could’ve heard,” Briscoe posted on Instagram on Wednesday.

Still, Briscoe was in the lineup for the series’ first action since March 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and used two strong restarts and a quick pit stop to finish on top. He got the lead out of the pits during the final caution, then pulled away from Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier on the subsequent restart with seven laps to go for his fourth career win and second this season.

“This is the biggest day of my life after the toughest day of my life,” Briscoe said.

Busch seemed to have the race in hand as he took the second stage in a dominant showing. But he was called for speeding in the pits and ordered to the back of the 39-car field.

But Busch was there to challenge Briscoe at the end, the cars touching off the final turn before Briscoe crossed the finish line in front by 0.08 seconds.

Allgaier was third, Austin Cindric fourth and Noah Gragson, the pole sitter who won the first stage, was fifth.

For Busch, it was another error that cost him a win at Darlington. In the NASCAR Cup Series race Wednesday night, he clipped Chase Elliott late to cause a spin — Elliott waited and extended his middle finger at Busch — and finished second to Joe Gibbs teammate Denny Hamlin.

Busch was satisfied with his run. “I had a good showing, put on a little bit of an exciting show there at the end,” he said.

Busch and Timmy Hill were in all three Darlington races. The two plan to run all four races at Charlotte, too.

After the delay Tuesday because of rain, more storms delayed the planned noon start for another 4½ hours.

NASCAR’s Cup Series had a successful return at Darlington with two races.

Kevin Harvick earned his 50th Cup win when he took Sunday’s race, the first for the series in 10 weeks, while Hamlin won a rain-shortened race Wednesday night, the first time the series ran on that day since 1984.

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Chelsea legend John Terry mocked by former Man Utd coach Rene Meulensteen for 2008 miss

Chelsea hero John Terry has been trolled by former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen for his miss in the 2008 Champions League final. Terry had the chance to win the Blues the prize from 12 yards after Cristiano Ronaldo had fluffed his lines in the shootout. But the Aston Villa coach sent his spot-kick wide instead.

Chelsea and Manchester United met in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow.

And it was left to penalties to decide the competition after Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard had both found the net.

Ronaldo then missed his penalty, with his attempt saved by Petr Cech, offering Terry the chance to win the prize the Blues coveted most of all.

But the Villa coach sent his effort wide and United went on to win, with Edwin van der Sar denying Nicolas Anelka.

And Meulensteen has now trolled Terry, calling out the Villa coach for pulling up his captain’s armband on the walk up.

“If Drogba had been sent off earlier in the game I think we would have been able to capitalise properly, but it seemed to spur Chelsea on,” he told Planet Football.

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“When Terry came up to take the penalty, he thought, ‘This is all about me – all the lights are on me.’

“He pushed his captain’s armband up, but he lost focus and slipped.

“The difference with us was that Nani, Anderson, Ryan Giggs and our other penalty takers were clinically focused.

“When Anelka stepped up, I couldn’t watch but I knew, whatever happened, Edwin was determined that he was going to stop that penalty because he was a winner – it was his Federer moment.

“To win the Champions League and share that euphoria with the players, the staff and the fans was an unbelievable feeling.”

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Meulensteen also opened up on the role tennis icon Roger Federer played in United’s Champions League triumph.

“I am a keen tennis fan and I have always admired Roger Federer and the way he controls his emotions,” Meulensteen said.

“I selected five clips of Federer for the boys to watch and asked them to write down which tournament he was appearing in, which set it was and which point.

“They would identify, say, Wimbledon as the competition, but they couldn’t tell me which point or set it was.

“The point I made to them was that wherever Federer was playing, he was winning and performing at the highest level when it really mattered.

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“He would win the first set, then lose the second and the third but, by the time the game reached match point, everything which had happened before didn’t matter because he was so focused on winning.”

United have not won the Champions League in the time since.

They made the final the following year but were played off the park as Barcelona beat them 2-0 in Rome courtesy of goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.

And United also lost to the Catalan giants in 2011, with Messi on target in a 3-1 win.

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Chelsea extend duo’s contracts but club yet to confirm deals, two players still leaving

Chelsea have reportedly extended the contracts of Willy Caballero and Olivier Giroud but both Pedro and Willian are still set to leave Stamford Bridge this summer. The pair will bolster the Blues squad ahead of a potential restart to the Premier League campaign next month.

Caballero, Giroud, Pedro and Willian were all coming to the end of their respective deals at Chelsea, with all four originally expected to become free agents at the end of the season.

However, the coronavirus crisis has caused the remaining fixtures of the Premier League season to be postponed and has created confusion over the status of out-of-contract players.

While there has been a suggestion that clubs could offer players short-term deals to cover the final matches of the current campaign, The Telegraph report that Chelsea have handed both Caballero and Giroud 12-month extensions.

Inter Milan and former Blues manager Antonio Conte had been poised to offer Giroud a three-year deal with wages of £70,000-a-week.

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However, the World Cup winner’s performances deputising for the injured Tammy Abraham since the turn of the year have convinced Frank Lampard and the Chelsea hierarchy of his worth.

Meanwhile, 38-year-old Caballero stood in for Kepa Arrizabalaga after a poor run of form midway through the season and is obviously considered a valued member of the Blues first-team.

The Argentine stopper is unlikely to feature much during the remaining year of his deal but offers Chelsea valuable squad depth with the season set to run well beyond June 30.

The latest news means it is now just Pedro and Willian who are set to depart this summer, although the both have stated they wish to remain at Stamford Bridge if the conditions are right.

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Pedro has revealed that he has received a number of offers from other clubs but has not ruled out staying in west London, although he has only featured on 18 occasions across all competitions this season.

Talks stalled over Willian’s extension with the 31-year-old demanding a three-year deal and a supposed pay rise.

Chelsea were only prepared to offer the Brazilian a two-year contract, meaning he is now expected to join Arsenal or reunite with former manager Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.

The winger believes that he is currently at the peak of his career and wishes to remain in the Premier League, while his family are thought to be settled and happy in London.

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Willian has said that he will see out the current campaign with the Blues – regardless of any contractual red tape.

Speaking to Esporte Interativo on a live Facebook chat earlier this year, Willian said: “My contract really ends, I think in July.

“And if I had to play on those dates, in these months, I think it would be no problem for me to end the league in a way which would be loyal to the club, as they always were with me. Regardless of a signed paper.

“But it’s clear that this is not a certainty, we don’t know what can happen. But without a doubt, as always, I will always be ready to give the best to my club regardless of my contract situation.”

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Chelsea ace Fikayo Tomori fires warning to team-mates and potential defensive signings

Fikayo Tomori has welcomed friendly competition for places at Chelsea but has warned his team-mates and any new arrivals that they will have to fight hard for their spot in the starting XI. The 22-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign under Frank Lampard but found himself consigned to the bench at the turn of the year.

Tomori made just one Premier League appearance in 2020, having previously racked up 14 outings for the Blues in the top flight.

The centre-back found himself out of favour as Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma rotated alongside Antonio Rudiger, and could slip further down the pecking order if Chelsea sign defensive reinforcements this summer.

However, Tomori is relishing the challenge of fighting for his place and has warned that he will be looking to take the shirt off anyone who stands in his way.

“Having competition helps the team to improve because everyone wants to play,” Tomori told the official Chelsea website.

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“You know if you want to get in the team then you have to better than the person who’s got the shirt at that time so you have to take it from them.

“Individually, it spurs you on but then it also makes the team better because everyone is going to be firing on all cylinders trying to get into the team.

“When you do get your spot, you have to play well to keep your place so I think the fact that there is that friendly competition means everybody knows you have to be on your game.

“If you train well, you can get in the team and if you play well then you’ll stay in the team. Having that breeds this friendly, competitive nature and spirit that we have and it can only be a positive thing.”

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Tomori enjoyed a successful loan spell at Derby County, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier League under Lampard.

And the youngster obviously did enough to impress the Chelsea legend, earning a call-up into the senior squad this term instead of being sent on loan again.

However, his progression has not stopped the Blues from being linked with moves for Jerome Boateng and Gabriel Magalhaes.

“I had spent two-and-a-half years in the Championship and with Derby last season I managed to win Player of the Year and get to Wembley for the play-off final so I knew I’d had a good season,” said Tomori.

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“I wanted to challenge myself at the next level, which was the Premier League. I wanted to do it for Chelsea, the club that I’ve been at since I was eight; a club that’s won the Champions League, the Premier League, FA Cups, everything.

“They won the Europa League the previous season so being able to come into that team and show myself, show the manager and the fans and my team-mates, show everyone that I could play at that level, was really important.

“I managed to do that in those early games and showcase what I could do and I’ve managed to carry that through.

“Now, it’s just about trying to maintain that level, not drop below it and keep on improving it.”

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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard reveals contract stance on Willian, Pedro and Giroud

Frank Lampard has revealed that Chelsea are looking to extend the current deals of their out-of-contract players if the Premier League season restarts. Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero are all due to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of next month.

However, the postponement of Premier League fixtures due to the coronavirus crisis has caused a logistical headache for both players and clubs.

Lampard is keen to keep hold of the experienced quartet and provide some continuity ahead of Project Restart.

But all four players must decide whether to sign a short-term deal and risk injury, thereby harming their chances of a lucrative contract elsewhere next season.

Speaking to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, Lampard said: “It is still uncertain if and when play will get underway. We have big players [out of contract] so that’s something I’m obviously looking at very carefully.

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“The ones who are out of contract here have been great servants for the club, and actually have a lot of feeling for the club.

“Of course they’ll be concerned about themselves, in terms of how training is now is and if the pre-season is a rush they’re going to have to make sure they’re alright.

“So it’s going to have to be something we have to look at, hopefully we can make that arrangement can be made so they can stay with us.

“I would love the squad to look as it has all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”

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With the Premier League hoping to resume next month, Chelsea have until June 23 to agree temporary extensions with their out-of-contract quartet.

Willian has already said that he would be willing to play out the remainder of the season with Chelsea but it remains unlikely that the 31-year-old will agree a new deal to keep him at Chelsea any longer.

The Brazilian has been offered a two-year extension but turned it down on the basis that he wanted a three-year deal and a pay rise.

Willian now looks most likely to switch to London rivals Arsenal or join former manager Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.

Olivier Giroud has previously expressed his desire to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the current campaign, and the Frenchman could well have done enough to earn a new contract.

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The World Cup winner showed his worth to Lampard by deputising for the injured Tammy Abraham shortly before Premier League action halted.

The arrival of Christian Pulisic last season harmed Pedro’s playing time, while Hakim Ziyech is set to arrive this summer and add further attacking competition.

It therefore looks unlikely that the Spaniard will remain at Chelsea long-term, although the 32-year-old is another who has said he wants to stay with the Blues.

Meanwhile, Willy Caballero provided adequate cover for Kepa Arrizabalaga last term but 39 in September so Lampard may look to usher in a younger replacement stopper.

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Chelsea flop Alvaro Morata could play key role in securing Jadon Sancho transfer

Chelsea flop Alvaro Morata may have a big impact on the Blues’ attempts to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho. The Spanish striker has spent the past season and a half on loan at Atletico Madrid and is expected to make that switch permanent this summer.

The terms of Morata’s move mean the Blues will receive a huge cash injection of £48.5million when the deal is finalised.

This windfall will go a long way to financing a bid for Sancho, with the England international expected to cost in the region of £120m.

The Sun claim that the switch is a formality with Chelsea insisting Atletico must agree to the permanent transfer.

Morata has impressed at the Wanda Metropolitano and is the top scorer in Diego Simeone’s side this season, bagging 12 goals and three assists across all competitions this term.

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In total, Morata has managed 18 goals in 49 appearances during his time in Madrid.

This is in comparison to 24 goals in 18 months at Stamford Bridge, having joined from Real Madrid for £57m in 2017.

Morata was initially seen as a direct replacement for Diego Costa but failed to make a mark under both Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri.

And now his chances under Frank Lampard look slim with Tammy Abraham having established himself as first-choice in attack.

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Morata recently spoke out about his time in England and the frustrations brought about from a poor run of form.

“I had the feeling when I got into space, my teammates looked at me [and] I knew they thought I wouldn’t do anything good with the ball,” he told COPE Radio.

“It was driving me crazy. I had a bad time. I’ve smashed my phone after games. I’ve gone home and thrown it against a wall.

“I had a back injury. I went to Germany for treatment… Two days later I played, my back hurt again, I had a terrible game.

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“I had all these messages on my phone saying ‘don’t worry, good times are coming’ and I threw it against the wall.

“I’m happier now. It wasn’t a good time in my football life, I’d stopped enjoying it. At times I didn’t believe in myself.”

The sale of Morata will go a long way to financing an approach for Sancho, while Tiemoue Bakayoko’s expected departure to Paris Saint-Germain will also generate more than £30m.

Further player sales could include Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater and Michy Batshuayi while Emerson Palmieri is expected to join Juventus.

Jorginho has also been linked with a switch to Turin and a reunion with Sarri, although Miralem Pjanic is now expected to join Barcelona so any potential swap deal is out of the question.

Marcos Alonso has been touted for a move to Inter Milan while Willian, Pedro and Willy Caballero are all out of contract.

Olivier Giroud is believed to have done enough to earn a new deal but it remains to be seen whether Kepa Arrizabalaga remains at Stamford Bridge next season after an inconsistent campaign.

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Hakim Ziyech tipped to ‘destroy’ Premier League for Chelsea as Blues’ rivals sent warning

New Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech has been tipped to ‘destroy’ the Premier League when he finally arrives at Stamford Bridge. The Moroccan midfielder agreed a £33.4million move from Ajax in January and is due to join up with Frank Lampard’s squad this summer.

The coronavirus crisis has cast doubt over when Ziyech will actually be able to pull on a Blues shirt for the first time, with the current Premier League season due to be extended throughout the summer.

But the 27-year-old will make a huge impact when he eventually turns out for his new club, according to Ajax stopper Andre Onana.

The Cameroon goalkeeper, who has been touted for a move to Chelsea himself in the upcoming transfer window, believes that Ziyech has what it takes to be a success in the English top flight.

Speaking to Dutch outlet NOS, Onana said: “When he leaves [Ajax], we will lose the most brilliant player on the team. It will not be easy.

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“He was already here when I got here. I can understand why [he is leaving]. I understand his choice.

“I am happy for him and proud of what he has done for this club. I wish him the best of luck. He’s going to destroy everything [in the Premier League].”

Ziyech and Onana were both part of the exciting young Ajax squad that stormed to the Champions League semi-finals last season, only to be dumped out after Tottenham completed a stunning turnaround from 3-0 down.

Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs De Ligt both moved on last summer, to Barcelona and Juventus respectively, and now it looks like more of the golden generation are off to pastures new.

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Ziyech’s departure is already confirmed but Onana has been linked with several top sides around Europe while Donny van de Beek is attracting attention from Manchester United.

Ziyech’s spell in Amsterdam finished on a disappointing note after the decision was made to curtail the Eredivisie without a champion, meaning Ajax missed out on the title despite being top of the table on goal difference.

The playmaker will hope to make up for that frustration by helping Frank Lampard’s youthful Chelsea outfit bag some much-needed silverware over the next few seasons.

The Blues boss is expected to overhaul his squad this summer as he builds for the future, having laid the foundations this term by blooding the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Billy Gilmour.

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A new striker is expected to arrive in an attempt to ease the goalscoring burden on Abraham while Jadon Sancho has been identified as a priority target with Willian and Pedro both out of contract.

Meanwhile, a left-back is required with both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri having been linked with moves away from the club.

Chelsea could also welcome a new goalkeeper, depending on whether Kepa Arrizabalaga stays at the club.

Olivier Giroud could well have done enough to earn a new deal but Michy Batshuayi is likely to depart while the likes of Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater, Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko are all expected to leave.

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