Chelsea remain hopeful over deal to sign key defensive target

Chelsea are hard at work in the transfer market
Chelsea are hard at work in the transfer market / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Chelsea remain optimistic that they will be able to strike a deal to sign RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol in 2023, sources have confirmed to 90min.

The 20-year-old centre-back was a target for Todd Boehly late in the summer transfer window but Gvardiol ended up signing a one-year contract extension which is understood to include a release clause of around £45m, which will become active at the end of the current season.

Since his extension, Chelsea have remained in contact with Leipzig over a double deal for both Gvardiol and teammate Christopher Nkunku, the latter of whom is believed to have all but confirmed his move to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Now, the talks with Leipzig are focused on Gvardiol and sources have confirmed to 90min that Chelsea believe they are close to agreeing another deal with the Bundesliga side.

As with Nkunku, Chelsea have indicated a willingness to pay over Gvardiol's release clause, allowing them to split the payment up over several years, rather than trigger the clause and be forced to pay the entire amount up front.

The two clubs have forged a strong relationship, with Boehly known to be an enormous fan of the Red Bull approach to football - a global operation driven by data analysis - and Chelsea believe this could work in their favour in their attempts to sign both Gvardiol and Nkunku.

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As with the French forward, Chelsea are hoping to announce Gvardiol's signing in January - even if the players remain with Leipzig until the end of the season - but the Bundesliga side are hesitant to agree to a sale so early in the campaign.

There is significant interest in Gvardiol from across Europe, with a number of elite sides considering making moves, and Leipzig have not ruled out waiting until the summer to agree a sale.

However, Chelsea believe their willingness to exceed Gvardiol's release clause, on top of their positive relationship with the Leipzig hierarchy, will ensure they win the race for the Croatia international's signature.

Elsewhere, Chelsea are also interested in a deal to sign Inter's Milan Skriniar, who is yet to extend his contract with the Serie A side and could leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Skriniar has interest from across the Premier League as well as mainland Europe, where Paris Saint-Germain have been attempting to finalise his signing since the summer.