Premier League champions Chelsea have reportedly opened talks with highly rated Bologna youngster Amadou Diawara over a potential transfer to Stamford Bridge.
That’s according to Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb (via Daily Telegraph), which stated that the 18-year-old starlet has sent representatives to west London to open discussions with the Blues.
Diawara has played in all but one of Bologna’s games this term, with his tough-tackling, tenacious style in the heart of midfield impressing immensely.
The teenager has been compared to former Chelsea star Michael Essien, and it’s easy to see why.
He has a fantastic engine and on-pitch intelligence well beyond his tender years. Here’s a reminder of exactly why Diawara has caught the eye:
The Blues have been crying out for a disciplined midfielder to partner Nemanja Matic in their setup for many a season, and despite being just 18, Diawara could well be that man.
His energy levels will balance perfectly with Matic’s positional awareness, thus giving Chelsea’s clever forward players more licence to roam and do the damage.
That’s if the youngster can displace John Obi Mikel in the Blues’ lineup, though, as Bleacher Report’s Garry Hayes believes the Nigerian has turned a corner in his career:
Who is the no. 12 for #CFC? January signing? Never seen THIS Mikel play for Chelsea. Been excellent today.— Garry Hayes (@garryhayes) January 3, 2016
Diawara still has four years remaining on his contract with Bologna, although the Italian outfit are likely to accept an offer of around £10 million for his services.
Chelsea could also feasibly send Diawara out on loan to aid his development, but it’s clear that the prospect of seeing him in the famous blue shirt is something to get excited about.
Elsewhere, Chelsea are set to face competition for Everton centre-back John Stones’ signature, after Spanish giants Real Madrid reportedly joined the race to sign him—per Pete Jenson of MailOnline.
Jenson wrote that recently sacked manager Rafa Benitez encouraged Los Blancos to chase the talented Englishman, who carries a £40 million price tag.
Barcelona are also said to be interested in Stones, yet they cannot meet Everton’s valuation of the defender.
Is John Stones worth £40 million to Chelsea?
It all means that Chelsea have to act fast if they want to bring Stones to Stamford Bridge.
The 21-year-old was the subject of three bids from the Blues last summer—the last of which was believed to be around the £30 million mark—yet if Madrid splash out £10 million more, it could be out of Chelsea’s hands.
Diawara and Stones aren’t quite the finished articles yet, but their potential for the future means that the £50 million risk to sign them could be well worth taking.
The Blues are unlikely to be able to offer either player Champions League football next term, and as that could count against them in their pursuit, manager Guus Hiddink needs to get the dotted lines signed as soon as possible.