CHELSEA have held initial talks over a move for Real Madrid ace Marco Asensio, it has been claimed.
According to Spanish publication Don Balon, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is spearheading the move because he is determined to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich has reportedly already begun work on a potential deal by sending representatives to discuss a switch with the 21-year-old.
Asensio is under contract at the Bernabeu until the summer of 2023 after putting pen to paper on an extension last year.
Despite emerging as one of Real Madrid’s hottest prospects, Asensio’s progress has stalled in recent months.
He has chipped in with 10 goals and four assists in 44 appearances this campaign but has hit the back of the net just three times since mid-November.
According to Don Balon, Alvaro Morata has talked up Asensio’s potential to Chelsea chiefs.
Morata played alongside Asensio at Real Madrid before heading to Chelsea last summer.
The Spain international previously attempted to quash talk of a move away from the Bernbaeu.
Speaking in February, he said: “I always try with everything I have left.
“To reach the biggest club in the world where there are millions of fans and a lot of pressure was a brutal change.
“My debut was in a final. I was not nervous, I scored a goal and I won my first title.
“In all my debuts I’ve always been able to score goals and I have come to Madrid to stay and score many goals.”
Conte ready to take Chelsea back to the UCL, if anyone cares to join him
Antonio Conte has a simple plan for next season: get Chelsea back to the Champions League. He should only have to take those players who truly want to fight alongside him to get there.
For a man who is sacked more before noon than most people are sacked all day, Antonio Conte is making a lot of plans for the future. At his press conference ahead of Chelsea’s fixture at Southampton, Conte made a simple statement of intent and an important challenge to his players.
“If you are not able to take a qualification place in the Champions League,” Conte said, “then you must consider playing next season without Champions League and to stay here and fight for this club…Two years ago, this happened the same. I didn’t see many players going away from this club then.”
As Antonio Conte pointed out, this current crop of players know what it is like to miss out on the Champions League. However, barring an unprecedented (even by their standards) collapse by Tottenham, they will miss the Champions League for the second time in three years. That has not happened in the Roman Abramovich era. Many of the problems behind Chelsea’s failure to qualify in 2015/16 are the same as this year. Many of those problems reside in the players themselves.
Most of the talk around the board backing Chelsea is in the realm of incoming transfers. However, the board need to stand behind the manager when it comes to outgoing players, as well. Missing out on the Champions League is a solid test of a player’s resilience as well as loyalty.
If a player is ready to pull the rip cord on his time at Chelsea rather than help the club earn their way back, he reveals a lack of confidence in the club and in himself. Leaving under these circumstances in search of Champions League football elsewhere is admitting your belief that qualification is the exception, not the norm, at Stamford Bridge. History tells us otherwise, as does the quality of the roster and coaching. But if a player believes his best chance of playing in the Champions League again is elsewhere, he does not belong at Chelsea. He will only damage the club’s prospects by staying.
Conte needs to sit down with every player and ask if they are committed to Chelsea and his team. He needs to start with his leaders and veterans. Ideally, his captains will be sitting on either side of him as the other players come in to say their piece. If a player is – to borrow Conte’s favourite phrase – prepared to suffer next season to earn a berth in the Champions League, then that is all Conte needs to hear.
If the player is not, he should walk straight down to Marina Gronovskaia’s office (in the absence of a technical director) and hand in a transfer request. Gronovskaia should then immediately set to work making the sale and buying his Conte-approved replacement. No hard feelings. Mutual consent all around.
Antonio Conte is right to point out how few players left after the 2015/16 season. Perhaps that is part of his current predicament. Players who may not have wanted to be at Chelsea then were happy last season when the wins came easily and everyone was happy. Then fortune flipped, and adversity revealed character at Stamford Bridge, as it does everywhere else.
Chelsea should not force Conte to take any players into next season who are not committed to the club and the coach. He has already dealt with this with Diego Costa and, to a lesser extent, David Luiz. No one should be surprised by Conte’s expectations or methods any more. Either they will follow him or they won’t. If they won’t, they should not be his problem.