Chelsea ‘close’ to taking ‘highly regarded’ director from Premier League rivals – Romano

Jason Soutar
Chelsea FC's stadium Stamford Bridge

Chelsea are working on a deal to appoint Southampton’s Joe Shields as their director of recruitment, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Shields is ‘highly regarded’ by the Blues for his terrific work at St Mary’s and with Manchester City.

Although results on the pitch have not been great for the Saints this season, they had a very stellar summer transfer window.

Armel Bella-Kotchap and Romeo Lavia have performed particularly well, with Chelsea reportedly making a £50million bid to sign the latter on deadline day, despite the fact he had only just joined Southampton.

Bella-Kotchap made his Germany debut last month after his impressive start to the season. The 20-year-old defender joined from Bochum for around £9m in July.

Shields also brought Joe Aribo to the club from Rangers for a measly £6m and signed teenagers Sam Edozie and Juan Larios from Manchester City.

Lavia also came from the Premier League champions, as did 20-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who has established himself as the club’s No. 1 under Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Shields spent nine years with City before joining Southampton in July.

Despite only joining the south coast club during the summer, it has been reported by Fabrizio Romano that he will be on the move.

Romano confirmed on Twitter that Chelsea are ‘close’ to reaching an agreement with the Saints.

He wrote: “Chelsea are closing in on the agreement with Southampton to appoint Joe Shields as new Director of Recruitment.

“Huge statement by club owners as Shields is highly rated after his top work with Southampton and Man City, discovering many talents.”

Shields is currently working as the head of senior recruitment for the Saints.

Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly’s recruitment team will not be complete with the addition of Shields, Romano confirmed for The Guardian.

Boehly has changed a lot of the infrastructure at Stamford Bridge since he and Clearlake Capital bought the club from Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea are also ‘poised’ to appoint Christopher Vivell as their technical director after he was sacked by RB Leipzig.

Boehly and co. are also eager to appoint a new sporting director.

The American businessman had acted as an interim sporting director for Chelsea in the summer transfer window.

The Blues were eager to bring in RB Salzburg director Christoph Freund, however, the Austrian rejected the chance to join the Premier League giants.

News of Chelsea’s interest also came via a Romano exclusive, so it remains to be seen if lightning strikes twice and Shields has a change of heart.

Freund confirmed his desire to stay with Salzburg last month.

He said: “As I have already confirmed in interviews, Chelsea FC was interested in me.

“When such a big club asks, it not only honours me and the work of FC Red Bull Salzburg, it is of course also a circumstance that entails personal considerations.

“But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in the best of hands with FC Red Bull Salzburg and that a change is out of the question for me.”

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