Former Arsenal player Paul Merson has told Chelsea who they should sign in order to solve a growing problem under Thomas Tuchel.
The Blues have been disappointing in the last few weeks, losing 3-2 to West Ham before drawing 3-3 in the Champions League against Zenit St Petersburg.
They only just managed to beat injury-hit Leeds last weekend before being held to a 1-1 draw with Everton last time out.
Those results in the Premier League have seen Chelsea give up both first and second place, with Tuchel’s side four points behind leaders Man City.
They are also one behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
That could change when the Champions League holders travel to Wolves on Sunday at 14:00.
However, Chelsea certainly do not look as strong as they once did. They seem to be suffering from a lack of creativity in central midfield.
There is no doubting the ability of Jorginho, although he can sometimes be found lacking going forwards.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has come in alongside him recently and looked comfortable. But Merson thinks a top-class midfielder needs to be brought in.
And the pundit has one name in mind. While appearing on Sky Sports News, he said (via HITC): “I think Chelsea are missing a [Ruben] Neves. I think they are missing a player who can spray the ball around the pitch.”
Neves has been a reliable performer for Wolves since joining the club for £15.8million in 2017.
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He has previously been on the radar of Man Utd and Liverpool, although they are not thought to be pursuing him right now.
That could give Chelsea a free run at the Portugal international, who turns 25 in March.
It will be interesting to see if Neves puts on an impressive performance when Chelsea visit Molineux this weekend.
Bruno Lage calls Chelsea ace ‘one of the best’
Despite Merson’s reservations over Chelsea’s midfield, Wolves boss Bruno Lage has lauded Jorginho.
The Italian came third in the Ballon d’Or awards last month. That followed his UCL and Euros triumphs this year.
“All the players are important but I like midfielders, they are very important to play a good game, and Jorginho is one of the best in that position at the moment,” Lage said.
“When we try to press them, every time their concern is to find Jorginho because every time Jorginho gives a solution to come out of the pressure and find the right spaces. He is very clever.”
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Agent reveals Arsenal interest in Gabriel Martinelli-style ace, with transfer labelled ‘ideal’
An agent has revealed Arsenal are hoping to sign a young star who is drawing comparisons with Gabriel Martinelli.
20-year-old Martinelli has been impressive over the last couple of months, hitting four goals and two assists in his last eight Premier League outings. That includes two strikes in December’s 4-1 victory over injury-hit Leeds United.
Following the 2-0 win against West Ham earlier in the season, during which Martinelli got on the scoresheet, Arsenal legend Martin Keown said: “In view of the backdrop, the manager taking the captaincy away from [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, the team showed it didn’t affect them at all in their performance.
“The youngsters, again, leading from the front. Martinelli, a player I just love watching. I just believe in what he does. The pace for that goal was outstanding.”
The skilful Brazilian is forming a deadly attacking partnership with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette. Their form means Aubameyang faces a fight to get back into the team upon his return.
The Gunners are looking to sort out a Martinelli repeat by signing a wonderkid with similar attributes.
The man in question is Atletico Mineiro’s teenage winger Savio. During a recent interview, the starlet’s agent confirmed Arsenal were keeping tabs on him.
Arsenal offer yet to arrive, says agent
“There are these surveys from Red Bull Bragantino and Arsenal, but nothing official. No offer has arrived for Savio,” representative Juliano Rodrigues said (via HITC).
The Brazil U18 international has admirers in his home country but is struggling to get into the Atletico Mineiro team.
Rodrigues went on to explain how a permanent exit is the ‘ideal’ solution.
“He needs to play to evolve. Atletico don’t play him. So the best thing would be a transfer, with Atletico getting part of the rights for a future sale (a sell-on clause).
“This way, Savio will be able to take off in his career, as he is one of the best players of his age in Brazilian football.
“Going out on loan now is not interesting. The ideal (thing) is to leave permanently.”
Savio has exceptional pace and great dribbling ability, hence the comparisons with Martinelli.
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Aubameyang provides health update
Meanwhile, Aubameyang has given a promising update on his health.
The goalscorer contracted Covid earlier in the month and was sent home from the Africa Cup of Nations due to ‘heart lesions’.
But Aubameyang is likely to make a full recovery. He posted the following statement on social media: “I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!!
“Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it.”
Aubameyang’s future at the Emirates is still up for debate, however.
According to CBS Sports, Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr are hoping to take him on loan for the rest of the season. They want to include an option to buy worth €8million (£6.6m) which will become active in the summer.
The Gunners are yet to respond to that offer. But they could also face bids from several other teams.
Sky Sports journalist Dharmesh Sheth reveals a number of European clubs are aiming to secure Aubameyang’s signature. AC Milan, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and Sevilla are among them.
READ MORE: Arsenal swiftly make serious move for replacement after Newcastle approach fringe player
Ousmane Dembele hits back at ‘blackmail’ as forward contests Barcelona version of events
Ousmane Dembele has issued a powerful response after Barcelona confirmed they are expecting to sell him before the end of the month.
Dembele’s future has been a hot topic for Barcelona for a number of months. He is out of contract at the end of the season. Signed for a nine-figure sum in 2017, losing him for free would be a big blow.
But Barcelona have been unwilling to meet his extortionate wage demands. And the situation reached boiling point on Thursday when their director Mateu Alemany confirmed the forward is up for sale.
“It seems obvious to us that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona,” Alemany said. “He is not committed to Barca’s future project.
“We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately. Barcelona only want to have players committed to the project.
“We expect a transfer to take place before January 31.”
It has led to heightened speculation over where Dembele may end up. Chelsea have been named as the early frontrunners; they could reunite him with his former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel.
There have also been links with the likes of Man Utd and Newcastle if he is to move to the Premier League.
It will be a busy couple of weeks to determine Dembele’s future. Immediately, he has been left out of Barcelona’s squad for their Copa Del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.
While his teammates were preparing for that fixture, though, the 24-year-old was speaking up on his future.
In doing so, Dembele defended himself and his representatives and contradicted his club’s claims that he is no longer at their disposal. Rather, he insisted he is there for coach Xavi and complained of blackmail.
Ousmane Dembele issues Barcelona response
Dembele wrote on Instagram: “Hello, everyone. It’s been four years since I’ve stopped reading things about myself without ever trying to justify myself.
“Gossip about me has been piling up for four years. It’s been four years that people have spoken for me, shamefully lied with one sole purpose, the intention of harming me. I have been following my line of never answering for four years, of never justifying myself.
“Has it been a mistake? Surely. As of today, it’s over. Starting today, I will answer honestly, without giving in to any kind of blackmail.
“I am 24 years old and like every man, I have flaws, imperfections. I have lived through complex moments, injuries, Covid has affected me. Without the slightest training session, the mister has asked me and I have always complied… without question.
“Perform as well as I have always done because it is my PASSION. I am fully aware of my luck to dedicate myself to the most beautiful job in the world. Also, my message is transparent.”
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Dembele insists he’s involved
The 2018 World Cup winner continued: “I forbid anyone to give the impression that I am not involved in the sports project. I forbid anyone to attribute intentions to me that I have never had. I forbid anyone to speak for me or my representative, whom I trust completely.
“Still under contract, I am fully involved and at the disposal of my club, my coach. I have always given everything for my colleagues and also for all the partners… it is not now that that is going to change. I am not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail.
“Surely love is a variant of blackmail. As you know, there are negotiations. I let my agent handle it, it’s his turf. My field is the ball, simply playing soccer, sharing moments of joy with my colleagues and all members.
“Above all, let’s focus on the essentials: WIN.
“Take care of your own. Ousmane Dembele”
Dembele has scored 31 goals from 129 appearances in a Barcelona shirt. But there are now serious doubts as to whether he will add to them.
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