Chelsea’s Matthijs de Ligt transfer plans impacted as AC Milan ‘schedule meeting’

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea: Thomas Tuchel reaction

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Chelsea may be forced to alter their transfer plans in January as Thomas Tuchel looks to bolster his options at the back. Centre-back Matthijs de Ligt had emerged as a potential target for the Blues but the domino effect of Juventus seeing their attempts to replace him could scupper any chances of reaching a deal.

The Blues are currently top of the Premier League by three points and have conceded only four goals in 13 games so far this season.

Tuchel already has Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Malang Sarr and Trevoh Chalobah to call upon to fill his three slots at centre-back.

Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James have also demonstrated they can deputise in those roles when called upon.

But it appears that the German coach is not prepared to rest on his laurels as the west London club chase reinforcements in the winter transfer window.

It was thought a move for 21-year-old De Ligt could provide Chelsea with a long-term defensive option despite the hefty fee that he would likely command.

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He signed for Juventus for £62m from Ajax after a standout season, helping the Eredivisie giants reach the Champions League semi-finals.

De Ligt was signed as a long-term replacement for Giorgio Chiellini but has largely struggled to replicate the form he showed for his former club.

He has made eight appearances for the Old Lady this season but their poor start to the season has suggested he could be looking to move on in the near future.

However, Chelsea’s chances of signing the Dutchman have been affected after it emerged Juventus’ ideal replacement, AC Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli, could sign a new contract at the San Siro.

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Romagnoli’s contract expires next summer and it was believed the Bianconeri could steal in to sign the Italy international on a free transfer from their Serie A rivals.

But transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has reported Romagnoli’s agent, Mino Raiola, is set to meet with Milan to discuss terms over a new contract.

While there is no guarantee he will pen an extension, Raiola’s apparent willingness to return to the negotiating table could end Juventus’ chances of signing the 27-year-old.

It was thought the Italian giants’ desire to sell De Ligt — who is also represented by renowned agent Raiola — largely hinged on their pursuit of Romagnoli.

And the latest development may force Tuchel to search elsewhere for a replacement.

The 47-year-old had identified Jules Kounde as his top target in the summer after landing Ronelu Lukaku but Sevilla’s asking price was beyond what the Blues were willing to pay.

While it remains a possibility that Chelsea revive their attempts to sign the French defender in January, their interest in De Ligt is unlikely to result in a move for the ex-Ajax star.

Bayern Munich defender Niklas Sule has been previously linked with a move to the Champions League winners, but the Germany defender appears to have settled at the Allianz Arena under Julian Nagelsmann.

The concern for Chelsea is that Rudiger and Christensen could both leave the club for free this summer as their contracts expire at the end of the season.

Talks are understood to be ongoing for both defenders, although there remains some difficult obstacles to overcome in convincing the pair to stay at Stamford Bridge.

With neither Rudiger nor Christensen certain to renew their contracts, it seemed De Ligt would at least provide Tuchel with some cover from next season.

But Tuchel and Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia may need to return to the drawing board after their latest setback.

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