Barcelona launch second bid of £60m for Chelsea winger

Barcelona has launched a second bid of £60million for Chelsea winger Willian.

Sportsmail revealed last month that Chelsea had rejected a £50million offer from the Spanish side.

But Ernesto Valverde has returned with an improved figure which is certain to test Chelsea’s resolve as he looks to add an extra dimension to his attack this summer.

It is understood that the La Liga giants will table a £55m offer for the player with £5m in add-ons.

Despite winning the league and cup double last season, the Catalan giants have concerns that their squad still lacks greater quality in depth and attacking flair.

Willian is therefore wanted following the departure of Andres Iniesta and the Barca hierarchy also want him to link up with compatriot Philippe Coutinho.

However, last week Willian insisted speculation over a move to Spain would not distract him from Brazil’s World Cup campaign in Russia.

When asked about linking up with Coutinho and Paulinho at the Nou Camp, Willian said: ‘Well, they are excellent players with a lot of quality. In addition to great players, they are very good friends.

‘People speculate a lot. We see a lot of things on the internet, but this is not the time to talk about this. I’ve not received any information about that. I’m trying to focus on my performance, playing for Brazil.’

Brazil was subsequently knocked out of the competition by Belgium, which has paved the way for the Spanish giants to up their pursuit of the Blues winger.

The 5 key issues Maurizio Sarri must sort out when he takes charge

For some of the Chelsea, players pre-season is already upon them with the majority of the first team squad having returned to Cobham over the past week.

But the players have no clear idea about who will be the man in charge of the training sessions with Antonio Conte still the head coach despite heavy links that Maurizio Sarri is set to replace him in the coming days.

The managerial saga has been dragging on for several weeks, however it is still expected that the former Napoli manager will take over from his fellow Italian very soon despite Conte having won the Premier League and FA Cup in his first two seasons with the club.

If the deal finally gets done and the move is made then Sarri won’t have a great amount of time to implement some of the changes that he wants to make at the club.

This is going to be a lot harder than it seems with 14 of Chelsea players have gone to the World Cup this summer meaning that they will have an extended break away from the rest of the squad.

At the moment the former loanees and academy players are back at Cobham having started pre-season, with those first-team players who did not go to the World Cup also joining them on Monday.

If Sarri is finally appointed this week then it will be the first chance that he will actually get to work with the team and find out first hand what he has and what he needs.

It isn’t long until the Blues play their first pre-season game in Perth on July 23, so getting to know the players, the way they work and implementing his own ideas are going to be key.

Well, this isn’t really something that went particularly well for Conte during his time at Chelsea with the Italian often bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t able to get his first options.

With no technical director still employed by the club, Sarri will have to make his opinions clear on the sort of player that he wants to bring into the side, however, there is no guarantee that he is really going to get who he wants.

Names like Kalidou Koulibaly, Gonzalo Higuain and Daniele Rugani have all been linked with a move to the Blues, but with just over a month to go until the transfer window actually closes there have been no official moves just yet.

Jorginho, however, could well be joining his former head coach at Stamford Bridge as part of the deal with the duo bringing a fresh bit of life to the club.

Things are going pretty slowly for Blues fans who are certainly getting frustrated with the lack of movement at the moment, however, if Sarri is finally appointed then it is going to be one area he has to have some say in.

Along with trying to bring players into the club, there is going to be some players that have to head out to make way for spaces and also to generate some funds.

A few of the players that have been linked with a move away are Willian and David Luiz, with both Brazilians likely to make an exit in the coming weeks before the season starts.

What Fulham signing Jean-Michael Seri means for Chelsea’s Jorginho deal and keeping N’Golo Kante
Willian could go for £50m in the current market, which seems like a decent price for the 29-year-old, while Newcastle United have already confirmed taking Kenedy on loan for another full season.

Others like Davide Zappacosta, Pedro and Danny Drinkwater also have an unsure future ahead of them, and Sarri will have to make some quick decisions on players he wants to keep and get rid of.

A couple of Chelsea’s key stars have been at the World Cup this summer and if their recent matches are anything to go on then they could be going deep into the tournament.

N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud have managed to help their country into the final of the tournament, while Belgium is in the third and fourth play-off with Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Michy Batshuayi in their ranks.

Gary Cahill and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were part of the squad that saw England knocked out in the semi-finals to Croatia, which means a lot of players might well be needing some more time off and giving Sarri less chance to work with them.

The key will be how much rest they are given so they return to the side fresh and raring to go, while also being physically prepared and match fit for the start of another gruelling Premier League campaign.

At the moment the Blues are pretty much injury-free, which is certainly a good thing compared to last season where they started the campaign with several players not ready to go, including Hazard.

The Blues players at the World Cup are likely to be given at least three weeks off and it will be vital Sarri brings them back into the side at the right time.

One of the criticisms of Conte’s Chelsea, especially last season, was the defensive nature of their play rather than actually going for wins on certain occasions.

The decision to play Hazard in a false nine against Manchester City was heavily criticised, while fans became a little bit frustrated with some of the things they saw on the pitch, especially in the Premier League.

However, Sarri’s Napoli has a completely different style to that, with a high-pressing game that also needs to be played with his side passing forwards early and getting on the front foot when possible.

Conte has had the Blues with three at the back since the defeat to Arsenal in the 2016/17 campaign, however, Sarri prefers a flat back four and it means that the players are going to have to adapt to another style of football.

But the main thing will be giving those players the freedom to express themselves more and to get out of the defensive habit, playing a more expansive style that is slightly more pleasing on the high.

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