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Lionel Messi plan unravels, Rice move could force Blues star out


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The transfer market might be shut for elite teams to buy and sell from around Europe, but that doesn’t mean the end of the planning.
Chelsea were one of the busiest sides in the Premier League, adding the likes of Edouard Mendy, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner to their squad over the summer, but there was yet more business they hoped to do and didn’t quite manage to – meaning in January, and next year, there’s already a reasonably clear path to tread.
Thursday’s transfer rumours focus largely on the near-misses and the backup options for the Stamford Bridge club, but there’s also huge news from yesteryear which could have altered the course of English football, never mind just Chelsea’s history.
Here are the latest rumours and news surrounding Frank Lampard’s side.
A remarkable claim by Gianluca Di Marzio on Sky Sports suggests that a FaceTime call was held between Lionel Messi and Jose Mourinho, back in the manager’s second stint at Stamford Bridge in 2014.
Chelsea were ready to pay the Argentine’s €700million release clause and the pair spoke on the phone to determine the suitability of the move. Messi was impressed by Mourinho, says the Italian journalist.
But Deco informed Messi’s father and agent Jorge of the call, which was facilitated by someone else entirely, and the entire deal collapsed.
It wasn’t a big secret that Chelsea hoped to sign Declan Rice over the summer, but the West Ham midfielder remains in east London.
The suggestion in the Star is that the Blues will ramp up their interest once more at the start of 2021, with Chelsea set to “revisit the situation” in a move which will “spell danger” for N’Golo Kante.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter are all mentioned as options for the France international, and Chelsea might revisit their not-for-sale stance on him if they manage to finally land Rice, says the report.
Chelsea were linked with a host of goalkeepers before eventually settling on new arrival Mendy, who is currently sidelined with a minor injury.
Their biggest consideration was Gianluigi Donnarumma, Fabrizio Romano told Calciomercato.
He has a year left on his contract and Chelsea were hopeful of a cut-price deal, but the report suggests that Milan are still confident he’ll renew and so were unwilling to sanction a cheap sale of Donnarumma.
Chelsea moved on to Mendy, who will be hopeful of soon establishing himself as the weekly starter.
Chelsea and Inter have been frequently linked with transfer dealings over the past year or two, though not many of the proposed transfers have actually gone through, outside of a Victor Moses loan perhaps.
Another bid which apparently failed to get off the ground, along with Emerson Palmieri, Kante and Marcos Alonso failing to get a move from Stamford Bridge to the San Siro, was Lautaro Martinez in the opposite direction.
Tuttomercatoweb (via SM) say Chelsea made an attempt to sign the Argentinian forward, but he opted against the switch as he only wants to join one of Spain’s big two.
ESPN cite Tuttomercatoweb also suggesting that Chelsea’s “concrete idea” is to land Paulo Dybala from Juventus.
With just two years left on his deal, the Blues view this as a good time to land the talented attacker on a cut-price deal, even after signing Werner and Havertz.