Chelsea have reportedly agreed a fee to sign midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu for around £23m from Rennes following two rejected bids by Brighton for Moises Caicedo.
The Blues have been pursuing the Brighton midfielder for some time, with the latest bid of £80m being rejected by Brighton.
However, while Chelsea may not have moved on from their persuit of the Ecuadorian midfielder, they have secured the signing of a young French midfielder which several sources say was being lined up by Brighton as Caicedo’s like-for-like replacement.
His name is Lesley Ugochukwu, a 19-year-old midfielder who plays for Rennes in Ligue 1, making 35 appearances in all competitions last season while helping to guide them to a Europa League spot.
According to Fabrizio Romano, the deal should be completed and confirmed in the next few hours as he has been left out of Rennes’ upcoming friendly game against West Ham.
Chelsea have not yet decided if they want to integrate him straight into the first team, or if they would rather loan him out to Ligue 1 side Strasbourg, a club that the London club holds a majority stake in.
Fans on social media have found this to be a smart move by Chelsea, as Brighton’s couting department is usually steps ahead of other elite clubs when it comes to identifying upcoming, obscure talent.
One football fan said: ‘Nahhh Chelsea have just gone and signed who Di Zerbi was gonna replace Caicedo with at Brighton, that’s some next level 3D chess from Boehly’
Another said: ‘The difference is one is premier league proven, and the other is a gamble that’ll have to adapt to playing in the PL and deal with the pressures of playing at Chelsea. It’s a risk, but it can pay off massively for them.’
Someone else also said: ‘Imagine boehly gets both. That man is ruthless ngl’
Chelsea are actively looking for midfielders following the sales of N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic among others who have left the club this summer.
Ugochukwu also seemingly fits into the new Chelsea transfer policy of signing under-21 prospects to build the squad, joining the likes of Andrey Santos, Carney Chukwuemeka and David Detro Fofana to name a few.