Chelsea are likely to be on the lookout for a new holding midfielder in the not-too-distant future if Jorginho decides to sign a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona at the turn of the year.
The Italian playmaker will be a free agent at the end of the season as things stand, meaning that he will be free to negotiate with foreign clubs from January in order to secure his future ahead of the summer and beyond.
Barcelona are said to have been scanning the market to replace Sergio Busquets in the middle of the park and have reportedly settled on Jorginho, who has played a crucial role for Chelsea since arriving from Napoli in the summer of 2018. The player’s agent, Joao Santos, recently travelled to Spain for talks with the Catalan giants and has already agreed a deal in principle that would see Jorginho join their ranks in advance of next season, according to Sport.
Chelsea will undoubtedly be looking to replace Jorginho with a new first-choice midfielder if he ends up signing for Barcelona, with N’Golo Kante also yet to sign a new deal that would keep him at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the campaign. The Blues will have no shortage of options to consider in the January market or when next summer rolls around, although it will be hugely important for them to make the right decision with regards to sourcing Jorginho’s long-term successor.
The ideal candidate for Chelsea would likely be Bellingham, who has firmly established himself as one of Europe’s best midfielders with his performances for club and country over the last few years. He is widely expected to leave Borussia Dortmund for bigger and better things at the end of the season and would be a formidable signing for Chelsea as a result of his all-round ability and sky-high potential at the age of just 19.
Several other high-profile clubs will be keeping a close eye on Bellingham over the next few months, though, which suggests that Chelsea would need to offer a package that he cannot turn down in order to snap him up ahead of the competition. Meanwhile, Dortmund’s nine-figure asking price could also prove to be a problem, although Todd Boehly’s willingness to spend big in pre-season indicates that a mega-money fee would not be a deal-breaking obstacle for the west Londoners.
Rice has been mentioned in connection with a return to Chelsea for a number of years but could finally be on the move at the end of the season, with his current deal at West Ham set to expire in the summer of 2024 as things stand. It seems almost impossible that the Hammers would allow a deal to be struck in January, although they could be under pressure to sell up if Rice enters the final year of his contract without signing a new one.
They are unlikely to sell for anything less than a premium fee, though, which suggests that Chelsea would again be forced to loosen their purse strings in order to bring him to Stamford Bridge next summer. That said, Rice would certainly be a shrewd acquisition for the Blues and could be worth a major investment if they are forced to target a long-term replacement for Jorginho at some point down the line.
Chelsea were said to have been interested in signing De Jong from Barcelona over the summer but were ultimately prevented from doing so by the Dutchman’s firm refusal to leave the Nou Camp under any circumstances. De Jong has failed to have the desired impact at Barcelona so far this season, though, which could soften his stance against a move away if Chelsea come calling in January.
The 25-year-old could also be signed for cheaper than Bellingham or Rice, with Barcelona reportedly having been prepared to sell him for around £65million in spite of his failure to leave the club in pre-season. However, De Jong’s sub-par form in Spain could lead Chelsea to explore other avenues first, with the player yet to register his first assist of the season after making 15 appearances in all competitions.