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Chelsea have reportedly made a decision about the future of midfielder Denis Zakaria. Having signed on a season-long loan from Juventus last September, Blues chiefs appear reluctant to make the move permanent this summer.
Despite having the option to sign up the 26-year-old for £30million at the end of the season, Chelsea appear willing to let Zakaria return to his parent club, according to Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg. The Swiss international has made just 10 appearances for Graham Potter’s side this campaign, and Chelsea are now on the hunt for a replacement holding midfielder to take his role in the squad.
This could come to the detriment of Arsenal as Todd Boehly ramps up his pursuit of West Ham star Declan Rice. Plettenberg added that Rice is a “top candidate” to strengthen Potter’s defensive midfield options, as they join the race to sign the England international.
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Rice looks poised to be at the centre of a bidding war, with Manchester United also said to be keen. However, Chelsea’s decision to let Zakaria leave could cause issues for Edu’s summer plan as the Blues’ need for a player in that position ramps up.
A similar situation arose in the January transfer window, when Boehly snatched Mykhaylo Mudryk from under Edu’s nose, before the Gunners instead switched their focus to Brighton’s Leandro Trossard. Rice will have just 12 months left on his current deal with the Hammers at the end of the season and has so far refused every approach over signing a renewal.
football.london understands that Rice is Arsenal’s primary transfer target ahead of the summer window. As per The Guardian, Rice is currently leaning towards a move to the Gunners because of the prospect of playing for head coach Mikel Arteta.
According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal recently held a transfer meeting where a summer move for Rice was heavily discussed. Speaking about the Gunners’ failed move for Chelsea new-boy Mykhailo Mudryk the House of Champions YouTube channel, Romano said: “I’m told that right after the Mudryk story, Arsenal had a meeting.
“A meeting planning for the present – (Leandro) Trossard, (Jakub) Kiwior and more – and the future. And in that meeting, Declan Rice was mentioned also as a possibility, a player they really like.”
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