‘Too expensive’: Romano says Barcelona can’t afford to sign £102m player, Chelsea are now watching closely

Chelsea have reportedly been handed a boost in their bid to sign Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

According to CaughtOffside, the 22-year-old is stalling on signing a new contract at the Turin side unless his release clause of £102m is lowered.

Writing in his column for CaughtOffside, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claimed the Dutch international has been open with his demands at his current club.

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Romano says: “Matthijs de Ligt’s current release clause is valid for €120m [£102m], while the contract expires in June 2024. Juventus are now negotiating with the Dutch defender to extend the contract until 2025 or 2026, but De Ligt has told the club that he will only sign a new agreement if the release clause is lowered.”

He also went on to say that Chelsea could have a clear run at De Ligt, with Barcelona being priced out of the deal.

“So far for Barcelona, who have financial problems, it is too expensive a deal for them to seriously consider at the moment,” the transfer expert said. “Chelsea have been monitoring De Ligt for months, but the priority at the moment is Jules Kounde.”

Sevilla’s Kounde has been a target for Thomas Tuchel since last summer, with the deal not quite getting over the line.

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However, it appears the deal is now close to fruition, with Diario AS reporting it’s only ‘a matter of time’ until its completion.

If Kounde doesn’t come off though, De Ligt could be a strong alternative. And it is interesting that the Blues still seem to be monitoring the situation regarding his contract.

His form at Juve is of some cause for concern, but his showings at Ajax proved what a talent he is, and he remains one of the most technically adept central defenders in European football.

The Blues are in the market for new defenders after Antonio Rudiger’s departure, while the rumoured exits of Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen could leave Tuchel’s back line options extremely thin.

But the German boss will at least have the return of 19-year-old Levi Colwill to look forward to after an impressive loan spell with Huddersfield Town. The young defender has already been linked to moves with Everton and Arsenal, but his performances on the road to the play off final showed he’s more than capable of finding his way into Tuchel’s plans

Jack is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has freelanced for The Athletic and The Sun. Jack has reported live from Premier League and Championship grounds, whilst also being published in the Non League Paper.