Chelsea News: Courtois replacement found, defender agrees deal, midfielder keen to join

Chelsea have identified Joe Hart as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois if he leaves for Real Madrid.

The Belgium keeper is wanted by Zinedine Zidane in Spain after impressing for Chelsea this season.

He spent three years in Madrid at Atletico – winning La Liga and taking them to the Champions League final – before returning to Chelsea.

This season he has helped the Blues top the table having conceded just twice in 11 games.

And, despite Antonio Conte wanting to keep him at Stamford Bridge, he is drawing up a list of alternatives to him.

And Express Sport understands that top of the list is Hart.

The England No.1 has been sent out on loan to Torino and is not part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at Manchester City.

He is expected to leave the Etihad permanently in the summer and Chelsea will be in the running for his signature if Courtois leaves.

But the Blues have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Niklas Sule, according to reports in Germany.

The 22-year-old Hoffenheim defender has agreed to join Bayern Munich according to Bild.

Sule is on Conte’s radar as he looks to bolster his defence in January.

The Italian is keen to reinforce his side despite their 11-game winning run and position at the top of the Premier League.

Frank Lampard wants to return to Chelsea – and is keen to play again.

The midfielder left New York City FC at the end of MLS season and is on the lookout for a new challenge.

The 38-year-old has been offered deals at Newcastle and Brighton but is still weighing up his options.

“I am very relaxed about it, which is a nice place to be,” he said on Soccer Am. “I’m not kind of eager that the end of my career is coming and thinking, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

“I’m relaxed and if the right thing comes, then I’ll take it. Obviously Chelsea, I would love that, but it doesn’t always work that way.

“I’ve taken this Christmas to enjoy family, a couple of beers and an extra turkey and I’ll make a decision in January whether I carry on playing – I have a few options – or finish and move on to whatever the next thing will be.”

Jurgen Klopp: What I really think about Chelsea this season

Jurgen Klopp admits that Chelsea will be the deserved champions if they are able to keep up their fine form in the Premier League this season.

The Blues have been the Premier League’s standout team this season and currently sit six points clear at the top of the table after having won their last 11 games on the spin.

Chelsea’s upturn in form is in stark contrast to their struggles last season, when they ended up in 10th place and without a trophy following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

It remains to be seen whether Antonio Conte’s men can keep up their fine form in the top flight during the second half of the campaign.

And Liverpool boss Klopp has given his verdict on Chelsea’s strong start to the campaign under their new manager.

Speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, Klopp said: “When they go on like this they are the deserved champions, nobody could have a doubt about this.

“I am pretty sure that until now Chelsea are maybe the team that have had the most luck with injuries. We lost Phil (Coutinho) and Daniel (Sturridge) and Danny Ings in difficult moments when you really could use them.

“If it’s Hazard and Costa at Chelsea, is it the same afterwards? It’s a long season and they all have to play us again and not only us, they have to play Arsenal again and all of the others.

“Of course they are the team to beat because they are very experienced, maybe the most experienced team in the top flight at the moment.”

Liverpool finished in eighth place in the Premier League table last season following Klopp’s appointment in October 2015.

 

Chelsea have the edge over Man United in the race for James Rodriguez

 

Heading into the January transfer window, the most likely player to leave Real Madrid is Colombian attacking midfielder James Rodriguez.

After the Club World Cup victory in Japan last weekend, James Rodriguez reiterated his desire to leave Real Madrid due to a lack of firm team opportunities.

Jorge Mendes speaks to AS
Super agent Jorge Mendes is a very busy man right now, with rumours swirling today that Pepe will be the latest big name player to get a move to China.

Mendes has spoken to AS regarding James, and said: “James will not leave in January”.

James Rodriguez is still keen to get more minutes under Zinedine Zidane and sees the two legged Copa del Rey clash with Sevilla as a great way to get back in the Real Madrid side.

Chelsea v Man United for James?
AS suggest there are four big teams keen on James Rodriguez. Chelsea, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.

But, Real Madrid will not sell the Colombian if they cannot recoup the 80 million euros they paid Monaco for James.

The Madrid-based paper report that Chelsea re favourites to sign James as Real Madrid are keen on a swap deal for the Colombian.

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