Mauricio Pochettino has “specifically asked” the Chelsea owners to sign Moises Caicedo this summer as a replacement for N’Golo Kante, with the Blues offering up fringe players in exchange for the midfielder.
Chelsea have been in talks with Kante, who’s out of contract at Stamford Bridge, over a fresh deal, but Al-Ittihad have swooped in with an astronomical offer to blow them out of the water.
“N’Golo Kante to Al-Ittihad is a done deal,” Ben Jacobs reported on Twitter.
“Kante is already undergoing his medical after accepting the two-year deal last night worth €100m per season.”
Chelsea were on the lookout for midfield additions in any case, but Kante’s departure has strengthened their resolve to sign players in that area of the pitch, with Caicedo thought to be at the top of their wishlist.
Arsenal made two bids for the Ecuador international in January, but their top offer of £70m fell short of Brighton’s valuation, and the Seagulls were reticent to sell him midway through the season.
Reports claim £80m will be enough to land the 21-year-old and journalist Rudy Galetti claims Pochettino is pushing Todd Boehly and Clearlake to move for the Brighton star.
Galetti said: “Pochettino specifically asked for the Brighton player to strengthen the midfield and now with Kante’s farewell, Moises is becoming an urgency.”
Chelsea are thought to be keen on a swap deal, but Levi Colwill is off the table.
Brighton have reportedly made two offers of £30m and £40m for the Blues academy graduate, who spent last season on loan at the Amex, but Pochettino wants to build his new team around the 20-year-old.
Chelsea are instead said to be drawing up a list of fringe players for Brighton to choose from to reduce the cost of Caicedo and ease his move to Stamford bridge.
Pervis Estupinan admits that everyone at Brighton is fearful of losing such an important player in Caicedo.
“Having a player of Moi’s [Caicedo] characteristics, we all fear that he will leave,” he said.
“If he stays, I will be very happy to keep playing alongside him and enjoying his football.
“If he goes, I will wish him all the best because he is a good lad, a good professional and he is a machine.
“If he leaves, we will be opponents and all I’ll ask is he doesn’t give me a whack because he is very strong!”