Chelsea News: Sarri has Kovacic plan, Bakayoko wages surprise, £50m centre-half solution

Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic is seen as an integral part of Chelsea’s team this season – despite his absence from their opening game.

The 24-year-old World Cup finalist was missing from the Blues’ matchday squad on Saturday.

Maurizio Sarri’s side won 3-0 at Huddersfield to kick-off the new Premier League campaign.

Star duo Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were joined in the middle by Ross Barkley before Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced him in the second half.

Moving forward, though, ESPN say Kovacic, who left the Bernabeu in search of regular action, is considered key to Sarri’s plans for the 2018/19 campaign.

He could make his debut on Saturday when Chelsea host Arsenal in their first London derby of the season.

With Sarri prioritising a 4-3-3 set-up, Kovacic is likely to form a midfield trio with Jorginho and Kante as the manager’s first choice this term.

Cesc Fabregas, along with Loftus-Cheek and Barkley, will offer alternatives in reserve.

Tiemoue Bakayoko has joined AC Milan on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

But the Blues will still be paying more than half his wages while he plays at the San Siro.

According to Corriere dello Sport, Chelsea will contribute £65,000-a-week, with Milan responsible for the remaining £43,000-a-week.

The Serie A side have the option to make the move permanent next summer too.

Chelsea bought France international Bakayoko for £39.7m from Monaco just last year.

However, he could join Milan full-time in 2019 for a fee in the region of £35m.

Chelsea hero Pat Nevin believes teenage prodigy Ethan Ampadu has the potential to bolster Sarri’s options at centre-half.

The Blues were looking to strengthen in central defence this summer but failed to sign key target Daniele Rugani.

Juventus’ 24-year-old appeared likely to reunite with Sarri at Stamford Bridge for around £35m.

But the Serie A giants ultimately played hardball and proved unwilling to do business as Chelsea missed out.

Nevin, though, suggests Ampadu, who has made seven first-team appearances, can fill the void and save the club as much as £50m in the long run.

The pundit and former Blues ace told Chelsea’s official website: “It all began to feel a bit last-minute as the squad finally took shape just before the transfer window closed.

“Would the extra midfielder arrive in time? Would we get the goalkeeping dilemma sorted? Is there really a need for another centre-back?

“In the midst of all this, one man seemed quite relaxed, laid back to the point of disinterested, and fortunately for us it was Maurizio Sarri.

“The other midfielder duly arrived from Real Madrid in the shape of Mateo Kovacic, we got in a younger model for the sadly departed Thibaut Courtois in goal and anyone who watched our game against Lyon will be aware that Ethan Ampadu is very likely to push David Luiz, Toni Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Gary Cahill as much as just about any other centre-back we could have thrown £50m or £60m at.”

However, he could join Milan full-time in 2019 for a fee in the region of £35m.

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