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Soccer

Chelsea player ratings vs West Ham: Willian and Pulisic impress but ace anonymous in loss

Chelsea missed their opportunity to go third in the Premier League after suffering a shock 3-2 defeat to West Ham. Willian scored twice as the Blues came from behind before ultimately being beaten in an enthralling clash at the London Stadium.

West Ham had an opening goal ruled out by VAR before Willian struck from the penalty spot, slotting past Lukasz Fabianski after Issa Diop brought down Christian Pulisic.

The Hammers hit back through Tomas Soucek’s header just before half-time and then took the lead when Michael Antonio slammed home from close range.

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Willian equalised with an excellent free-kick but Chelsea were caught on the break when pushing for a winner and Andriy Yarmolenko hammered home a late winner.

Express Sport have rated how the Chelsea players performed against West Ham, but do you agree?

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Chelsea player ratings vs West Ham United – Premier League

GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 5

Left stranded for all three goals and will be asking serious questions of his defence.

RB: Cesar Azpilicueta – 4

Dominated by Soucek when trying to mark the Czech midfielder at corners and was caught out twice, although VAR bailed him out on one occasion.

Unable to offer much going forward and was part of an out-of-sorts rearguard.

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CB: Andreas Christensen – 6

Built on his impressive outing against Manchester City with another solid display here.

Antonio opted to target Rudiger instead of the Dane, and Christensen was easily the most accomplished Blues defender on show.

CB: Antonio Rudiger – 4

A pretty torrid evening for the German, who was given the slip early by Antonio as a sign of things to come.

Struggled to deal with the Hammers forward’s movement and strength, while his attempt to halt Yarmolenko’s break was weak.

LB: Marcos Alonso – 3

Ineffective in the attacking third and inept at the other end of the pitch.

Allowed the cross for West Ham’s second and then inexcusably failed to track Yarmolenko’s run in the closing stages.

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CM: N’Golo Kante – 5

Overshadowed by his opposite number Declan Rice in a low-key outing, although the Frenchman did start to get more of a handle on the game after the break.

CM: Mateo Kovacic – 5

Bright in the opening stages and kept the ball tidily but was withdrawn shortly after half-time.

CM: Ross Barkley – 3

Forced a simple save from Fabianski in the first-half but was anonymous thereafter.

Deserved his start but will struggle to justify getting another one at the weekend.

RAM: Willian – 8

Great composure to bury his penalty and then spotted Fabianski out of position for his free-kick, but two goals wasn’t enough to bail out the Blues.

LAM: Christian Pulisic – 8

Won the penalty with his quick feet and was a threat all evening, driving at the West Ham defence and always looking to play positively.

In a brilliant vein of form, but it’s a shame that wasn’t matched by his team-mates tonight.

ST: Tammy Abraham – 5

Got very little change out of the West Ham centre-backs.

SUB: Mason Mount (on for Kovacic, 53 mins) – 6

SUB: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (on for Barkley, 63 mins) – 5

SUB: Olivier Giroud (on for Abraham, 63 mins) – 6

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Soccer

Man Utd troubling Premier League stat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite promising results

Manchester United certainly look to be heading in the right direction under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heading into the final few weeks of the season, but it has been a bumpy road getting there. The 3-0 win over Brighton on Tuesday night stretches United’s unbeaten record eight games in the Premier League and 15 in all competitions.

Their turn of form coincided with the signing of Bruno Fernandes, who has helped inject some much-needed creativity into Solskjaer’s midfield.

That coupled with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford returning from injury has turned the Red Devils into a dangerous opponent.

This is Solskjaer’s first full season in charge having earned the job on a permanent basis following an impressive turnaround during his time as Interim boss.

A blip in form at the end of last season concerned some Red Devils fans heading into the 19/20 campaign but the club were still confident of a top-four finish.

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That confidence soon turned south though as they won just two of their opening nine Premier League games, including defeats to Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

Form soon began to pick up with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood all impressing in front of goal.

Defeats at Bournemouth and Watford though kept United out of the top four with the gap to Chelsea and Leicester ever increasing.

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Back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Burnley though seemed to be the turning point for Solskjaer’s side as they embarked on their impressive unbeaten run.

But despite United’s upturn in form, Solskjaer is still facing an unwanted statistic for the entire season.

Having won just 14 games from 32 matches, Solskjaer’s win percentage is currently at 43.75 per cent.

That is considerably worse than David Moyes’ Premier League record (50 per cent), who was sacked after just 10 months in charge.

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That percentage drops even lower from the time United handed Solskjaer the job permanently back in March 2019.

The Norwegian boss has taken charge of 40 Premier League games since being handed a three-year contract, winning just 16 games, giving him a win percentage of 40 per cent.

With six games remaining, Solskjaer still has time to ensure he doesn’t finish the season with the worst win percentage from a United manager since the Premier League season was cut down to 38 games a season.

More pressing for Solskjaer though will be qualifying for next year’s Champions League with Wolves, Tottenham both in close proximity.

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Soccer

Newcastle takeover: Steve Bruce reveals how the players feel about £300m Saudi deal

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce says his players have gotten used to potential takeovers of the club to the extent that it has ‘become the norm’.

After 13 years at St James’ Park, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley appeared closer than ever to finally selling the club when he agreed a £300million deal with a Saudi consortium in April.

But over two months on, they are still awaiting news from the Premier League over whether it has been approved.

On Tuesday, Premier League chief Richard Masters said a decision would be announced ‘shortly’, raising hopes that the saga will finally end either way.

Over the years, a number of groups have attempted to buy Newcastle, only to see the deals fail.

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In 2008, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan was strongly interested but couldn’t agree a deal with Ashley and moved onto Manchester City, where he has helped turn them into one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Three years ago, reports emerged that a Chinese consortium and a number of international parties are thinking about buying the club.

And last year there was a takeover attempt by the Bin Zayed Group which didn’t materialise.

This time the deal with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia appears to have a chance of finally getting the green light.

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And Bruce says the players are well accustomed to speculation surrounding the club.

“The vast majority have been here a good few years and how many times have we been talking about takeovers?” Bruce said.

“I’ve only been here 11 months! I think they’ve become sort of used to it and it’s become the norm.

“As I’ve said many times about this group of players, a lot of them have been here a few years now and the club means something to them.

“I’ve got no problems with that. I think they’ll get on with it and wait for the answer like all of us and let’s hope there’s an answer quickly.

“We can’t influence it or make it an excuse. We are professionals and just have to get on with it.

“We need a decision to be made, let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

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Soccer

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho tipped to complete Chelsea transfer raid

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho should sign Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud this summer instead of moving for Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik, ex-Premier League ace Paul Robinson claims. Spurs are ready for a busy summer transfer window.

Mourinho is hoping to land a new striker, as well as signing Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Spurs could raise funds for incoming signings by selling record signing Tanguy Ndombele after a below-par first season in north London.

Tottenham have been heavily linked with Napoli forward Milik, who is out of contract next summer.

However, there are doubts over whether the 26-year-old would play second fiddle to Harry Kane under Mourinho.

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And Robinson has instead urged Mourinho to raid his former side Chelsea for Giroud, who would be a ‘smart’ signing for Daniel Levy and co.

“It is always a difficult sell to a player when they know Harry Kane will play if he is fit,” he told Football Insider.

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“Mourinho will only play with one striker and you have got to remember that they have Son as well.

“Milik would not start every game and it would take a certain type of player to play that role.

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“But Kane has not completed a full season for three years or so. He is still scoring goals despite missing great big chunks of seasons through injury but do you want to risk it as a player coming in? It is a tough sell.

“In January they tried to get Giroud and I still think he would be a smart signing.”

Giroud signed a contract extension earlier this year to keep him at Chelsea until next summer.

However, it remains to be seen whether Mourinho could land the France striker on the cheap with just 12 months remaining on his deal.

Reports this week claimed Mourinho is also confident of signing Southampton midfielder Hojbjerg.

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One issue, however, is Mourinho has been told he must raise the transfer fee by selling players.

Tottenham are looking into making Kyle Walker-Peters’ loan move at Southampton permanent to lower the asking price, which is currently around £35m.

The player-plus-cash deal could tempt the Saints into lowering their asking price.

Hojbjerg is keen to head to north London to team up with Mourinho after telling Southampton he wants to play at a higher level.

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Soccer

Chelsea injury news: Pulisic and Christensen latest as five doubtful for West Ham clash

Chelsea continue their Premier League campaign against West Ham at the London Stadium tonight, looking to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches across all competitions. The Blues booked their spot in the FA Cup semi-finals with victory over Leicester last time out and have already beaten Manchester City and Aston Villa since English football returned.

Chelsea were on a four-match unbeaten streak before lockdown and have racked up three straight wins since the return of on-pitch action.

Frank Lampard’s men were not at their best against the Foxes on Sunday but still managed to earn their passage into the next round thanks to Ross Barkley’s second-half strike at the King Power Stadium.

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Focus returns to the Premier League this week, with Chelsea aiming to strengthen their hold on a Champions League qualification spot.

The Blues are two points clear of Wolves with a game in hand, while they still boast a five-point lead on Manchester United but there are several injury concerns for Lampard to address ahead of the clash with the Hammers.

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Christian Pulisic

Pulisic has arguably been Chelsea’s best performer over the past three games, scoring twice as he looks to cement a starting berth ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

However, his availability for the trip to West Ham has been in doubt after the American was seen with ice on his calf having been substituted against Leicester.

After the final whistle Lampard was confident it was not a big issue, saying: “Christian felt a tightness in his calf in the second drinks break, hopefully nothing that keeps him out.”

However, he was more reserved in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday and said: “We are managing him, but no answer yet.”

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Andreas Christensen

Christensen was a stand-out player in Chelsea’s victory over City, but subsequently suffered a hip injury that caused him to miss the clash with Leicester.

Lampard has confirmed the Dane is in the squad to face West Ham but is set to check his fitness prior to kick-off.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Hudson-Odoi has been struggling with an ankle knock picked up in training at the start of June but could make his return against West Ham

Speaking ahead of the clash with City, Lampard said: “Callum Hudson-Odoi is still searching for fitness. He’s fit but not match fit yet.”

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Fikayo Tomori

Tomori is closing in on a return to action with the young centre-back expected back in training this week.

The 22-year-old picked up a muscle problem which has seen him sidelined since the Premier League restart, and last week Lampard said: “Tomori is still probably about a week away from training properly with us.”

Marco van Ginkel

Van Ginkel has been sidelined for nearly two years with a serious knee injury but recently signed a 12-month contract extension at Stamford Bridge.

The Dutchman is steadily working his way back to full fitness and has been stepping up his recovery during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Soccer

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer already has ideal Jadon Sancho partner in crime

Manchester United still want to sign Jadon Sancho, despite reports suggesting they’re only prepared to pay £50million to land the Borussia Dortmund star. And, in Marcus Rashford, they already have the ideal partner in crime for the 20-year-old. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the pair have the potential to fire them to trophies aplenty – and ensure Liverpool don’t dominate the Premier League for years to come.

According to reports, Manchester United are only prepared to pay £50million to sign Sancho this summer. And that won’t be enough to get a deal for the forward done.

Borussia Dortmund instead value their prized asset at closer to £100m. But with the coronavirus crisis continuing to impact many around the world, the Red Devils don’t want to undo all the hard work they’ve done throughout the pandemic.

Yet United fans shouldn’t despair. They still want Sancho and, instead, will find other ways into convincing Dortmund to give up their talisman.

And Rashford could yet hold the key to a blockbuster transfer.

The United star has known Sancho for a number of years. For a while, both players strutted their stuff in Manchester – with one on the red side, and one on the blue.

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The Red Devils hope that Rashford could actually hold the key to the Dortmund star making the move to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens at the end of the season.

Both men operate from the flanks. Sancho on the right and Rashford on the left.

And United believe that the prospect of the duo doing the same for club as they do for country will be enough to swing the transfer pendulum their way.

Earlier in the month, it also emerged that Solskjaer had asked Rashford for his thoughts on Sancho and what the Dortmund star could bring to his squad next season.

And he only heard positive things.

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United have used friendships to their advantage in the past. And that was particularly true in the summer when they lured Harry Maguire away from Leicester.

Rashford and Jesse Lingard were both asked by Solskjaer for their thoughts on the England international and whether he’d be the right pick for their defence.

And they also both talked Maguire into a move to Old Trafford. Even though he’s had some erratic moments, he’s certainly made a big impression so far.

United are currently content with their attacking options.

They believe Rashford has the potential to be a Ballon d’Or winner if he continues to work hard, with the 22-year-old finding the net 19 times across all competitions so far.

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United also think Anthony Martial is getting better and better, with the France international also on 19 goals for the season.

And they reckon Mason Greenwood is only going to get better with age. The 18-year-old currently has 12 goals for the campaign.

But, in Solskjaer’s eyes, Sancho would be the jewel in the crown.

United think a front three of Sancho, Rashford and Martial would be enough to propel them to the prizes they’ve gone without since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

But whether they’re able to form their dream front three next season is something only time will tell.

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Soccer

Man Utd beating Brighton may explain Ed Woodward transfer decision on one player

Before Manchester United’s Premier League showdown with Brighton, Jadon Sancho transfer news broke. It emerged that Ed Woodward has set a maximum fee of £50million for the Borussia Dortmund star. And Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s qualities may be behind his decision, with the trio sparkling at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday night.

Manchester United do want Sancho.

While Woodward has reportedly set a maximum fee for the England international this summer it’s an open secret that the club want to bring the 20-year-old to Old Trafford when the transfer window opens again.

But seemingly not for any price.

It was Sky Sports who claimed that United had set a price for Sancho, wary of overpaying the odds at a time where many across the world have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

And the form of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood may be behind that transfer decision.

All three sparkled as United cruised their way past Brighton on Tuesday night, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side easily outclassing the hosts.

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Greenwood scored the opening goal of the match in the 16th minute, producing a fine finish after bamboozling the Brighton defence with some fancy footwork.

And United doubled their lead 13 minutes later with Bruno Fernandes finding the net with a pinpoint shot from the edge of the box.

Fernandes then added gloss to the display in the second half, scoring a second goal of the game.

It was a straightforward night for United and the performances of Greenwood, Martial and Rashford was one of the biggest positives.

Behind the scenes, United feel they’re progressing well. Whisper it quietly, they even think the trio can be their own answer to Sadio Mane, Mason Greenwood and Roberto Firmino over at Liverpool.

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In Rashford, they feel they’ve got a future Ballon d’Or winner on their hands.

The England international faded after a bright start against Brighton but was still a constant thorn in Albion’s side, posing all sorts of problems with his mazy runs and footballing intelligence.

He’s not scored since the restart but United are happy nonetheless. He’s been playing well and that means that, eventually, the goals will start to flow again.

Martial was also unable to get on the scoresheet.

But the France international’s evolution was evident at the Amex. He’s now becoming more of a complete forward, often dropping deep and allowing his team-mates to drift into dangerous positions.

Greenwood will have been delighted with his goal, which is the 18-year-old’s 13th of the season.

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And United think he’ll only get better with time. Against Brighton he played on the right wing but, despite that not being his natural position, he was dangerous throughout the showdown.

While fans and the club want Sancho, Woodward’s transfer stance could be explained by the current attackers at the club’s disposal.

They’re brimming with potential and now look like they’re operating the very peak of their powers.

Throw Sancho into the mix and United will be considered as a genuine threat to Liverpool when it comes to the title next term.

But they may already be. Rashford, Greenwood and Martial is a trident that could strike fear into opposition defences across the globe. 

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Tennis

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic slammed by Australian ace over pay row

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have forgotten what it is like to be a lower-ranked player. That is the damning claim from Australian tennis player Andrew Harris.

The tennis season has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a consequence, players have not been able to earn money from competitions and those lower down the rankings are struggling financially to make ends meet.

In May, tennis’ governing bodies came together to create a $6million Player Relief Programme to support its players.

With their influence and power, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, who is the president of the ATP Player Council, have been looked at to lead the way.

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All three of them have expressed reservations about tennis resuming later this year.

While lower-ranked players are more than keen to play to allow them to earn money.

But Harris, ranked 204th in the world and with career prize money of $235,903, is not convinced by the trio’s efforts and delivered a scathing assessment of them.

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“Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, they’ve been at the top for so long, they almost forget what it’s like to be in these lower positions,” he told the Break Point podcast.

“I know Federer is all for the money at the top.

“He might say in public what people want to hear, that he’s all for money being redistributed to lower-ranked players.

“But when it comes to voting, his preference is to keep it at the top.

“I think Novak out of the top three is pushing the agenda to give money to the lower ranks hardest.

“Whether that’s enough, but out of those three, I think he’s doing the most.

“It doesn’t affect them so they’re not that invested. At world no. 1 or 2, you’ve got so much going on.

“Novak didn’t even join the Zoom call. He’s the head of the player council, wasn’t on the call, didn’t show his face and there were images of him playing soccer at the same time. That’s pretty ordinary.”

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Soccer

Man Utd may make Jadon Sancho demand to Borussia Dortmund over Jude Bellingham transfer

Manchester United may allow Jude Bellingham to join Borussia Dortmund if the Bundesliga club reduce their asking price for Jadon Sancho, according to Sky Sports reporter Rob Dorsett. Sancho is United’s top transfer target heading into the upcoming window. However, reports claim the Red Devils are not willing to pay more than £50million for the England international.

Dortmund want over £100m for Sancho but, like many clubs, are set to face financial struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Birmingham City sensation Bellingham, who turned 17 on Monday, is a target for both Dortmund and United.

Dorsett was asked by Sky Sports News presenter Vicky Gomersall whether Bellingham’s future could impact Sancho’s.

“Dortmund want to sign Birmingham teenager Jude Bellingham, could this be key then to the Sancho deal?,” Gomersall said.

Dorsett said it is a possible scenario which could see Sancho join United for a cheaper price.

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“It could be, it could be, because Jude Bellingham, like Jadon Sancho, is right in the middle of a power struggle between these two huge clubs,” Dorsett replied.

“Now, the dynamic is slightly different because Jude Bellingham is owned by Birmingham City right now, so neither Dortmund or Manchester United have the upper hand.

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“Because Dortmund and Manchester United both want Bellingham, could Manchester United walk away from the Bellingham deal and say: ‘Okay Dortmund, you have Jude Bellingham but we expect a reduction in the price for Jadon Sancho’?

“Could he be a makeweight in that negotiation for Jadon Sancho? It’s absolutely fascinating.

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“Expect much more from the Manchester United side of things, the Borussia Dortmund side of things, even the Birmingham City side of things.

“And the future of Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, absolutely fascinating for the next few months or so.”

Meanwhile, former United coach Rene Meulensteen says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should prioritise signing a striker rather than a winger such as Sancho.

“The first thing that you talked about is they may have to go out and spend for a big striker,” Meulensteen told talkSPORT.

“They’ve brought [Odion] Ighalo in, obviously a player that can help United in certain times and he’s done actually very, very well.

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“But if you look to the other players that have been there, [Marcus] Rashford, Martial, they’re not really out-and-out strikers.

“Greenwood, young player coming up, same thing there. So there are a lot of chances and goals that can be created coming from the wide areas, Sancho is exactly the same player.

“What I think Manchester United is missing is a striker of the calibre of [Robert] Lewandowski, somebody who is up there, can hold the line, can link play but when it comes to finishing chances in and outside the box, that sort of player and they are hard to come by.”

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Soccer

Chelsea get final chance to cast judgement over signing their own Bruno Fernandes

Chelsea will have one eye on the German cup final on Saturday as they continue to monitor Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, who is hoping to come out on top against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Manchester United turned their season around by signing Bruno Fernandes in January and they have not lost a match since the midfielder arrived from Sporting Lisbon.

The Red Devils are enjoying a 13-match unbeaten with Fernandes pulling the strings.

Chelsea could sign their very own creative maestro in Havertz which may take Frank Lampard’s side to the next level.

The Blues have a host of top-class midfield options but none have the same ability as Fernandes.

N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic all shield the defence very well while the legs of Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek provide the energy.

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Mason Mount has been the key figure playing in behind the striker and his first campaign as a regular in the senior squad has been a huge success.

However, Mount has not shown the same decisiveness as Fernandes does in finding the space between the lines to link-up the midfield and attack.

Havertz can fill that void and be the key piece of Lampard’s jigsaw which gets his new forwards Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech firing on all cylinders.

Chelsea have been watching the 21-year-old light up the Bundesliga this year but they have yet to make a formal approach.

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If there are any doubts over the Germany international they can be ironed out with a solid performance in the cup final this weekend.

There are not many more difficult opponents to face than Bayern, as Chelsea know all-to well given they trail Hans Flick’s side 3-0 in the Champions League last-16 first leg, which will be continued in August.

In what could be Havertz’s final appearance for Leverkusen, a strong showing against the league champions will only enhance his reputation and could tempt Chelsea in making a move before their rivals.

A host of top European clubs, including Real Madrid and Manchester United, have placed Havertz on their radar.

The versatile midfielder must move on to play Champions League football next year as Leverkusen finished fifth in the table.

That has also apparently knocked Havertz’s price tag down from £90million to £70m – a discount which could be tempting for Lampard.

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