Soccer

Chelsea get Barcelona transfer revenge after ‘top secret’ tactics seal £20m signing

Chelsea 2022/23 season preview

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Chelsea gave Barcelona a taste of their own medicine by performing an impressive hijack of their own to secure Carney Chukwuemeka’s signature. The exciting Aston Villa midfielder is set to join Chelsea after the two clubs confirmed they had reached an agreement over the transfer on Tuesday.

Chukwuemeka has been given permission to travel to London and undergo a medical ahead of his move to Stamford Bridge, which is understood to be worth around £20million on a six-year contract. Chelsea have fended off interest from AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, but also, most notably of all, Barcelona.

On his YouTube channel, Fabrizio Romano reports that the La Liga giants were leading the race to sign Chukwuemeka, who has entered the final 12 months of his Villa contract. However, Chelsea launched a ‘top-secret’ pursuit of the 18-year-old starlet, snatching him from under Barca’s nose by snapping him up this summer.

The Nou Camp club have been the bane of Chelsea’s summer, stealing a march on both Raphinha and Jules Kounde after the Blues had agreed deals with Leeds United and Sevilla, respectively. So getting one back over them, albeit on a far smaller scale than the pair of £55m captures, will certainly sweeten the transfer.

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Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Billy Gilmour have been joined by returning loanee Conor Gallagher this term. And Chelsea seem to be eyeing further reinforcements past Chukwuemeka after opening talks with Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong.

Whether Tuchel’s desire for two new central midfielders indicates a change of formation in the upcoming campaign remains to be seen. But Chukwuemeka would have to make quite the impression if he’s to thwart the competition already in west London.

Chukwuemeka helped England win the U19 European Championships last summer and made 12 Premier League appearances for Villa throughout the 2021/22 season. But he only started twice and is thought to be keen on getting more first-team opportunities in the top-flight, which Thomas Tuchel has potentially offered.

His decision to join Chelsea in search of game time is an intriguing but commendable one, considering the depth Tuchel has at his disposal this season. The German head coach only plays with two central midfielders in his three-at-the-back system and has an array of options available to him, even after opting against making Saul Niguez’s loan permanent.

Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Billy Gilmour have been joined by returning loanee Conor Gallagher this term. And Chelsea seem to be eyeing further reinforcements past Chukwuemeka after opening talks with Barcelona for Frenkie de Jong.

Whether Tuchel’s desire for two new central midfielders indicates a change of formation in the upcoming campaign remains to be seen. But Chukwuemeka would have to make quite the impression if he’s to thwart the competition already in west London.

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