Former West Ham United striker Dean Ashton has said that he is not surprised by the ongoing speculation linking Willian with a move to Barcelona. The Brazil international has been one of the Blues’ most consistent performers over the past five years and Ashton believes the attacker has been more important to the Blues than Eden Hazard.
Speaking on TalkSPORT, he said: “There is no surprise Barcelona are after Willian. He’s maybe more important to Chelsea than Hazard. I think over the last three seasons he’s actually been more consistent in his performances. Willian goes under the radar because of Hazard’s brilliance at times. I feel like Hazard is very in and out, it’s whenever he fancies turning it on. For Chelsea, I think a player like Thibaut Courtois is replaceable – but you can’t lose Hazard and Willian. You just can’t lose them both.”
Chelsea are ready to make a £40m bid for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, according to the Mail Online.
The Blues have been regularly linked with a move for the Spain international, who has scored twenty-four goals in La Liga so far this season, a record only bettered by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
There has been talk over a potential swap deal involving Thibaut Courtois, though it is unlikely that Mourinho will sanction such a transfer with the young Belgium international, who is in his third season on loan with Atleti, seen as a long term replacement for Petr Cech.
Fernando Torres has also been linked with a return to the Spanish capital, though with the La Liga leaders’ preference of buying young players with huge sell-on fees, Chelsea may be better suited to lodge a cash-only offer.
Meanwhile, Demba Ba has hinted at a move to Italy as he looks to heading towards the Chelsea exit door, the Mail Online understands.
The Senegal forward has managed just eleven goals since moving to Stamford Bridge from Newcastle United last January.
Ba has also suggested that there has also been interest from other clubs in England, where he would prefer to remain if given the right oppurtunity.
Aston Villa are keen to secure a permanent deal for Ryan Bertrand when his loan spell is complete, the Mirror understands.
The England full back swapped London for Midlands back in January, joining up with Paul Lambert’s side for the rest of the season.
He has made seven Premier League appearances since arriving at Villa Park, having made just ten in the whole of 2013 for Chelsea, just one of which coming since Jose Mourinho returned to the club.
The 24 year old has two years left on his contract with the Blues, but is understood to be open to the idea of moving on.
He is unable to feature in the game against his parent club this weekend, but is confident that he can help the side achieve a top half finish for the first time in three years, according to Sky Sports.
Meanwhile, the Daily Star understand that the club are yet to open talks with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois regarding his future, according his father.
The Belgium international is currently enjoying a third successive season with La Liga title challengers Atletico Madrid, and is reportedly wanted by both Atleti and their city rivals Real on a permanent basis.
Chelsea beat Premier League title favourites 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium yesterday evening to move level on points with Manuel Pellegrini’s men, and two behind leaders Arsenal.
Branislav Ivanovic’s 32nd minute strike was enough to separate the sides, and consign City to their first home defeat of the season.
The Blues, who are contenders for the title according to manager Jose Mourinho, will now turn their attention to next weekend’s visit of Newcastle United, which is followed by a trip to West Bromwich Albion before they return to the Etihad Stadium a week on Saturday in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Elsewhere Thibaut Courtois’ father has insisted that Petr Cech’s Chelsea future must be decided before Courtois junior decides where he will be playing his football next season, ESPN understands.
The Belgium international is currently in his third campaign with Atletico Madrid, who climbed to the top of La Liga for the first time since 1996 after they beat Real Sociedad 4-0, and champions Barcelona were defeated by Valencia.
Courtois, who has kept clean sheets in half of Atleti’s league games so far this season, has already won the Copa Del Rey, Europa League and Super Cup in his time in the Spanish capital.
Chelsea will use the money they received from Manchester United for Juan Mata to try and beat them to the signature of Southampton defender Luke Shaw, according to the Mail Online.
With Ashley Cole now 33 and yet to be offered a new contract, the Blues are keen on bringing in the highly rated left-back while United are looking to continue rebuilding after breaking their transfer record at the weekend by bringing in Mata.
The club are still in a £20m profit this month despite bringing in Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, and are confident they have the financial muscle to get a deal for Shaw over the line.
However, the Daily Star understands that the South Coast club have absolutely no intention of selling the 18 year old.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has reiterated that the Saints are keen to keep hold of all of their star players this month.
Elsewhere, reports in Spain suggest that an agreement has been made between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid for a swap deal for Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa, the Mail Online understands.
Courtois has spent the last three seasons on loan with the La Liga side, while Costa, who is currently the second top scorer in La Liga behind Cristiano Ronaldo, is wanted by a host of European clubs.
Manchester United are closing in on a deal for out-of-favour Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata, but are not willing to include Wayne Rooney in any deal, according to the Independent.
Both players have been linked with the switch for some time, with Mata who seemingly closer to the exit door.
It is understood that the two-time Blues Player of the Season will be allowed to leave, should be ask manager Jose Mourinho personally, while Rooney remains very much part of David Moyes plans as United try to reduce a deficit of fourteen points between themselves and league leaders Arsenal.
Meanwhile, ESPN understands that Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Diego Simeone is keen on securing a permanent deal for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is currently enjoying a third season with the La Liga club on loan from Chelsea.
The Belgium international has enjoyed success during his time in Spain, winning the Copa del Rey, Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup, where he faced Chelsea in the final in Monaco in August 2012.
Elsewhere, Schalke general manager Horst Heldt has dismissed reports suggesting that Julian Draxler is set for a move to the Premier League as wild speculation, the Daily Star understands.
The Germany midfielder, who has been linked with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, is currently one of the hottest properties in European football following his superb form for both club and country.
Xabi Alonso has ended speculation that he could be set to reunite with Jose Mourinho by penning a new deal at Real Madrid, according to the Independent.
The 32 year old was due to be out of contract at the end of the season, but has now extended his contract with the La Liga giants to 2016.
The Spain international, who announced the news on Twitter by posting a picture of him and Real president Florentino Perez holding a shirt with ‘Alonso 2016’ on the back, is currently in his fifth season in the Spanish capital, having previously spent five years in the Premier League with Liverpool.
Staying in Madrid, Thibaut Courtois is keen to resolve his future quickly, ESPN understands.
The Belgium goalkeeper, currently in his third season on loan from Chelsea at Atletico Madrid, is keen to know where he will be playing his football next season.
The 21 year old former Genk man has excelled in his time in Spain, winning the Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Copa del Rey, while this season they are currently joint on points with La Liga leaders Barcelona and qualified from their Champions League group in first place.
Chelsea moved back into the Champions League places after drawing nil-nil with Arsenal at the Emirates yesterday evening.
The visitors best effort came in the first half when Frank Lampard hit the woodwork, while Olivier Giroud squandered two good efforts that, if converted, would have seen the Gunners reclaim top spot.
The clean sheet was only the second the Blues have kept in their past twelve league games, while it was only the second time Arsenal had failed to score in the league all season.
Jose Mourinho’s men return to action against Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day, before hosting Liverpool on Sunday and travelling to Southampton on New Year’s Day.
Meanwhile, Petr Cech has revealed that he not feeling under and extra pressure concerning Thibaut Courtois returning to Stamford Bridge next summer, Sky Sports understands.
The Belgium international is currently enjoying a third year on loan with Atletico Madrid, who went into the recent La Liga break joint on points with leaders Barcelona.
With Courtois, who is yet to turn out for the Blues, unlikely to be shipped out again next year Cech is expected to face strong competition for the number one spot which he has held since arriving at the club almost ten years ago.
Chelsea will be without Brazilian midfielder Oscar for this evening’s trip to Sunderland.
The 22 year old injured his ankle in Sunday afternoon’s 3-1 win over Southampton, and joins international teammate David Luiz on the side-lines, though Samuel Eto’o could feature after returning to training following a hamstring problem.
The Blues have are unbeaten in their last three league games, and have lost just one in their last nine. Three points here will keep the pressure on leaders Arsenal, who host Hull City this evening.
This evening’s match begins a run of three matches against teams currently in the bottom five of the Premier League for Jose Mourinho’s side.
They travel to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon before facing Crystal Palace seven days later.
Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois is set to hold talks with the club regarding his long term future, Sky Sports understands.
The Belgium international is currently in his third season on loan with Atletico Madrid, where he has established himself as one of the best young goalkeepers in world football.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been linked with a move for the 21 year old, who is yet to play for Chelsea since signing from Genk in 2011.
Chelsea midfielder Ramires has admitted that he is unaware of any interest in him from other clubs aside from what is written in the media, according to Sky Sports.
The Brazil international, who has not missed a minute in the Premier League for the Blues so far this season, is reportedly a target for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, but has insisted that his sole focus is on succeeding at Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have joined the race to sign Blues out of favour midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, the Mail Online understands.
The 22 year old has barely featured under Jose Mourinho, and has been linked with a host of Bundesliga clubs having impressed on loan with Werder Bremen last year.
Atletico, who are currently second in La Liga, three points behind Barcelona, already have a Chelsea player with them on loan in the shape of De Bruyne’s international teammate Thibaut Courtois.
Elsewhere, Davide Santon has insisted that he is happy at Newcastle United in the wake of speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge, according to the Metro.
The right-back, who is also reportedly a target for AC Milan, has featured in all but one of the Magpies Premier League games this season.
Tags: AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Davide Santon, Kevin De Bruyne, Newcastle United, Ramires, Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois, Werder Bremen