Chelsea dealt major blow in pursuit of AC Milan star

Toby Bowles
Chelsea Hernandez

Chelsea have suffered a major setback in their pursuit of AC Milan left-back Theo Hernandez, according to reports.

The Blues are seeking reinforcements in both wing-back positions after Reece James and Ben Chilwell suffered serious injuries, with the latter ruled out for the rest of the season.

As things stand, Marcos Alonso is the only recognised first-team wing-back at the club, making the need for additions acute.


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Lucas Digne is one target, having been outcasted at Everton following a row with Rafa Benitez in December. Also on the shortlist is Hernandez, who has attracted interest from some of Europe’s top sides in recent seasons.

His current deal expires in 2024, but according to journalist Antonio Vitiello, Paolo Maldini – the Milan sporting director – has said negotiations over an extension are “underway”.

Vitiello, who attended the Aimc 2021 meeting at which Maldini spoke, recited the Milan legend’s comments on Twitter: “Theo’s [contract] is very well underway as well as Ismael’s [Bennacer], and we are talking to Rafa Leao. The intention is to renew shortly with all three.”

The news will no doubt come as a blow to Chelsea, given any new deal is likely to include a significant pay rise in a bid to keep Hernandez at the club.

 

 

One option is to recall Emerson from his loan spell at Lyon; the Brazilian has missed just one league game for the French outfit this season meaning he won’t be lacking in match sharpness.

Digne, meanwhile, could be available for a cut-price fee given Benitez’s desire to offload him, but Chelsea would have to battle for his signature with several other Premier League clubs, including Aston Villa.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel said of Chelsea’s plans: “We are discussing and are in talks with the board and the scouting. We are checking the possibilities, as we always do.

“We are looking into the market and the possibilities. Not under the highest pressure but things have to make sense for us.

“I will not give you any details but I will not hide from the fact we have a long-term injury with Ben Chilwell. Of course, we know and appreciate Emi [Emerson] as a player and a person in general.”