Thursday, June 24, 2021

Chelsea round-up: Blues racing against time to land £45million-rated Benfica starlet; to battle Manchester City for Sunderland’s teen sensation

Chelsea are running short of time to capture attacking midfielder Joao Felix after Benfica offered him a new deal that includes a massive £105 million get-out clause.

Felix is apparently close to agreeing on the contract, which could put him well out of the reach of the Blues for the time being.

Maurizio Sarri has been keeping a close watch on the new star of Portuguese football after his stunning start to the season — especially as the 18-year-old’s current deal sees him available at a more affordable £45 million.

Felix is regarded as one of the brightest young players coming through the ranks in his homeland, and already has two senior goals for the Eagles to his name.

Italian and Spanish clubs are also tracking him, while West Ham tried to seal a move last month. But sources in Portugal have revealed that the player could agree on a new deal at Benfica as early as Monday unless Chelsea intervene.

The youngster, who plays as a No. 10 or from the left side, also has four goals in eight games for his country’s Under-21s. His current deal still has four years left, but with scouts arriving in droves to see him in senior action recently, Benfica are looking to cash in and ensure maximum value.

Chelsea and City are battling to sign Sunderland teen Bali Mumba

Spies from both English clubs watched the midfielder, 17, shine in the FA Youth Cup at Halifax on Wednesday.

Mumba has also appeared for the Black Cats’ first team this season, where his skill and hard running marked him out as a star for the future.

He may have signed a pro deal, but that is not keeping away the biggies. City were in pole position for the England youth international and are fine with paying around £2.5 million, but Chelsea are also keen now.

Sunderland may decide to cash in and use the money to boost their promotion bid, with their purses not too heavy ahead of the winter transfer window.

Mumba might be happy at the club, but the contracts on offer for teenagers at both City and Chelsea might prove hard to resist.

Liverpool and Arsenal have already signed up some of Sunderland’s discoveries, and Mumba appears next on the production line. Championship side Sheffield United are also looking at Sunderland skipper George Honeyman as they chase promotion.

Boss Chris Wilder does not want to fall short like last season and is requesting to his board for cash to spend in January. The versatile Honeyman fits the bill and the Blades can afford his wages. Honeyman is looking to help the Black Cats’ return to the second tier on the first attempt.

Author’s take:

In this cut-throat world of football commercialism, there is a certain hierarchy among clubs, and Sunderland will know that they cannot keep the vultures out for long. If things come to it, they will look to cash in on their young stars and strengthen their bid to gain promotion to the Championship in the first attempt.


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