Chelsea try to steal march on rivals for £27m defender Marash Kumbulla

Chelsea have reportedly stepped up their interest in Hellas Verona’s central defender Marash Kumbulla.

The Blues are one of several elite European clubs monitoring the Serie A prospect and have now been touted with showing concrete interest in the 20-year-old.

He is highly regarded in Italy, having made 18 Serie A appearances for eighth-placed Hellas this season.

And Corriere dello Sport report that the Blues have made a move towards signing the Albanian star as they look to get the jump on the competition.

Inter Milan have previously been considered as favourites in the race for his signature, although Lazio are now said to be the Blues’ main competition.

Reports from Italy earlier this month also claimed that Arsenal, Everton and RB Leipzig were in contention for the player who has been compared to a ‘young Giorgio Chiellini’.

Corriere dello Sport also throw Borussia Dortmund into the mix but state Lazio believe a move to Rome makes the most sense for Kumbulla.

But if it comes down to money, the Blues are thought to be in the driving seat with Marash reportedly set to cost at least €20m (£18m).

FCInterNews even went so far as to value the impressive defender at €30m (£27m) earlier this month.

Guaranteed playing time may be harder to come by at Stamford Bridge, where there is fierce competition for places in central defence.

However, he may fancy himself to make an impact at the club where the latest generation of youth talent has been handed a chance to impress under the latest regime.

Chelsea on red alert as Ligue 1 giants register interest in Alex Telles

Chelsea may face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain for Porto defender Alex Telles, according to a recent report.

The Blues are said to have targeted the Brazil international as the perfect option to plug a troublesome position.

It was previously claimed that Frank Lampard’s side were in a strong position to sign Telles as Pini Zahavi, who has played a key role in Premier League transfers in the past, is now acting as the 27-year-old’s agent.

However, the west Londoners appear to have been dealt a massive blow as Le 10 Sport suggests that the Parisians have joined the race for Telles.

Porto are said to be holding out for around €30m (£26.87m) for the player, though, which could price Thomas Tuchel’s side out of a move.

The South American has made 183 appearances for the Portuguese giants in four years at the Estadio do Dragao.

Meanwhile, Chelsea pair Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero have both penned contract extensions which will keep them at the club next season.

Giroud’s existing contract had been due to expire at the end of the current, delayed season and he had been linked with a prospective switch to Lazio.

But the 33-year-old, who netted Chelsea’s last goal prior to the pandemic in the 4-0 win against Everton, said he was delighted to confirm his future.

He told Chelsea’s official website: “I am delighted to continue my journey and adventure at Chelsea.”

The board also exercised the option to extend Willy’s contract by a further year until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Caballero told the Blues’ official site: “I am very happy to make this announcement. It is a privilege to be part of this Chelsea squad and the Chelsea family, at one of the most historic clubs in the Premier League.”

£42,000-a-week Italy international 'in no rush' to leave Chelsea

Emerson Palmieri says a return to Serie A ‘could happen’ and is full of praise for his former head coaches Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte, but insists he is in no rush to quit Chelsea.

The 25-year-old has been in-and-out of Chelsea team since he arrived in west London from Roma in the winter of 2018, under Conte, Sarri and now Chelsea icon Frank Lampard.

The Italian has impressed at times but struggled to hold onto a regular place in the senior team, starting just 13 Premier League games this campaign and none since 21 January.

Lampard has been frequently linked with signing a new left-back, with the likes of Nicolas Tagliafico, Ben Chilwell and Alex Telles all potential targets, and Emerson admits his future may well be away from the Blues.

‘I was very happy in Serie A, including with the culture, which is also why I chose to play for Italy,’ Palmieri told Sky Sport Italia, via Football-Italia.

‘A return to Serie A could happen, but I have a contract with Chelsea and I’m in no rush to go anywhere.

‘It has been a wonderful experience at Chelsea, as first there was [Antonio] Conte, so obviously it was easier to deal with an Italian coach.

‘As for [Maurizio] Sarri, I’ve no words for what a marvellous year we had, as we finished third in the Premier League, reached the Carabao Cup Final and won the Europa League. We can’t complain!

‘I learned a lot from Conte, he proved himself to be a fantastic coach, but I think for the time we worked together and the results we achieved, I got even more from Sarri.’

He was born in Brazil and started his career at local club Santos before sealing a move to Italy back in 2014 and going on to represent his adopted country seven times.