Chelsea are continuing to make progress in their pursuit of RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku and 90min understands the Blues are hopeful of confirming his signing before the World Cup kicks off next month.
90min confirmed in September that Nkunku underwent a medical with Chelsea officials during the summer with a view to a transfer in 2023, with Blues co-owner Todd Boehly already making a start on future transfer business.
Nkunku will have a £58m release clause in his contract next summer but Chelsea are reluctant to agree to pay that, given the whole fee must be paid upfront, and are instead hopeful of paying a little extra as part of a payment plan that will allow them to spread the cost out over multiple years.
With personal terms already agreed between Chelsea and Nkunku, sources have confirmed to 90min that there is an optimism that the Frenchman's transfer can be finalised before he heads off to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup next month.
Talks remain on over Nkunku's teammate, centre-back Josko Gvardiol. Negotiations are not as advanced in this case but there is still a belief at Stamford Bridge that he will follow Nkunku to London before the start of next season.
Gvardiol also has a release clause, understood to be under £50m, but Chelsea are again pursuing a traditional transfer so as to avoid one bulk spend.
Boehly is aware that Nkunku and Gvardiol are two of the most in-demand players around right now and is keen to avoid a drawn-out transfer saga, having been frustrated with the time it took to lure Wesley Fofana away from Leicester during the summer.
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Elsewhere, Chelsea continue to pursue the signing of Dynamo Moscow midfielder Arsen Zakharyan. The 19-year-old was the subject of a summer bid from the Blues but complexities stemming from the international sanctions on Russia made a transfer too complicated to pull off at the time.
While personal terms and his £12.6m release clause are not problems for Chelsea, navigating the legal issues that come with dealing with Russian teams has proven challenging and the Blues are now hopeful that Zakharyan will be able to obtain Armenian citizenship, which would boost their chances of meeting the requirements for a transfer.