A number of Spain players paid tribute to Luis Enrique after he left his position as head coach on Thursday.

Spain were dumped out of the World Cup round of 16 on penalties by Morocco on Tuesday, a shock defeat that ultimately cost Luis Enrique his job.

The Royal Football Federation confirmed on Thursday it would not be renewing his contract, which expired at the end of the tournament, and later revealed Luis de la Fuente was set to take over the role having previously been in charge of Spain's Under-21 side.

Luis Enrique's former players showed their gratitude to him after the announcement, with Cesar Azpilicueta sending his best wishes on social media.

"We had all imagined another ending after months of work, passion, dedication and commitment," Azpilicueta posted on Instagram.

"Thank you very much for the trust, Luis Enrique, and all the coaching staff I wish you the best in the future."

Gavi was given his Spain debut by Luis Enrique last year, becoming La Roja's youngest ever player at just 17 years and 62 days old.

The Barcelona midfielder was another to send a message to his former head coach on Instagram, saying: "Thank you very much for betting and trusting me in the National Team, mister!

"I wish you luck and success in the future, you gave everything for the team and we will always be grateful to you!"

Pedri also enjoyed his maiden international outing under the stewardship of Luis Enrique and is one of the young stars that look to have given Spain a promising future, despite the disappointment in Qatar.

"Thank you very much for everything, Luis," Pedri added on Instagram. "For your trust and support from the very beginning, and for always believing in and caring for this group.

"We haven't gotten where we wanted in this World Cup, but I'm sure the future will bring you new successes."

Inter and Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries will reportedly be available in the January transfer window for €50million, with Chelsea and Manchester United named as interested parties.

Dumfries, 26, enjoyed a breakout performance in the Netherlands' first knockout game in Qatar, contributing a goal and two assists in the 3-1 win against the United States.

It continues his strong form for his country, also boasting two goals and an assist in five UEFA Nations League fixtures this calendar year, while adding three assists from his 15 Serie A clashes this campaign.

Inter sit fifth in Serie A and the club would like to retain the services of a regular starter in his prime, but a report from Calciomercato claims any bid exceeding €50m would be an offer they cannot refuse.

 

TOP STORY - PREMIER LEAGUE TARGET DUMFRIES AVAILABLE IN JANUARY

According to Calciomercato's report, Simone Inzaghi views Dumfries as invaluable to his plans this season, but the financial aspect of a potential €50m deal would take the decision out of his hands.

Dumfries even addressed the rumours of Chelsea's interest after his man of the match performance against the Americans, saying "of course it’s a big compliment to be linked with Chelsea".

United are the other club mentioned in the report, with Erik ten Hag's search for a new right-back being well-documented since his arrival, including Dumfries' Dutch team-mate Jeremie Frimpong of Bayer Leverkusen.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham's interest in 22-year-old out-of-favour Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie has been reignited after starting all four of the United States' World Cup outings, per Calciomercato.

– Fichajes is reporting United's top target at goalkeeper is 29-year-old Atletico Madrid standout Jan Oblak.

– Fichajes also believes Real Madrid could make a move for 33-year-old Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta in January.

– Sky Sports Germany's Florian Plettenberg is reporting Chelsea, United, Real Madrid and Barcelona are the sides interested in 20-year-old RB Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol, who has been impressive for Croatia at the World Cup.

– Marca is reporting Barcelona believe 25-year-old Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans has already made a commitment to another club, as he is unwilling to hold any discussions about Barcelona's interest.

Cesar Azpilicueta says he would not swap any of his Chelsea trophies for a World Cup title with Spain.

Azpilicueta has lifted nine trophies with Chelsea since signing for them in 2012, and the Blues' Club World Cup win in February this year means the defender has won every club prize possible with the London outfit.

In contrast, the 33-year-old is yet to taste glory with his international side, having made his debut after their World Cup triumph in 2010 and the European Championship successes of 2008 and 2012.

Spain have not returned to a final since that 2012 victory, but Azpilicueta revealed he would not trade any of his club titles for a World Cup win, telling reporters: "Why would I swap any trophies?

"I want to get another one, this one [the World Cup] if I can.

"I made my debut for Spain against Uruguay here in Qatar, in Doha, in 2013, so it would be a good story for me to win the World Cup here. 

"We have a brilliant opportunity. We have an amazing group, we can play our football and after that it’s a tournament where you cannot make any mistakes.

"You have to start well and small details make the difference.

"We will try our best and, of course, I’d love to add this trophy to my cabinet."

Spain get their World Cup campaign underway against Costa Rica on Wednesday, before going on to face Germany and Japan in Group E.

N'Golo Kante's Chelsea contract is winding down, with the deal due to expire at the end of this season.

Kante, who will miss the World Cup due to a hamstring surgery, has only played twice this season for the Blues.

The France midfielder joined Chelsea in 2016 from Leicester City following their shock Premier League triumph and looks set to be on the move again.

 

TOP STORY – SERIE A GIANTS CHASE CHELSEA MIDFIELDER

La Repubblica reports Juventus and Inter are circling for Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante in January.

The report claims that the 31-year-old does not have a good relationship with new Blues boss Graham Potter and wants to leave Stamford Bridge.

It is also claimed that any January move would cost around £18m (€20m).

 

ROUND-UP

– Juve may be willing to allow midfielder Weston McKennie to leave in January amid interest from Premier League clubs, claims CalcioMercato. The United States international has previously been linked with Tottenham, Chelsea and Leeds United.

Chelsea made a breakthrough "in the past few weeks" in negotiations with Mason Mount over a new deal, reports The Athletic. Mount's deal expires in 2024 and Football London claims the issue has been the length of a new contract.

– Talks are ongoing between Arsenal and Gabriel Martinelli on a new contract, claims Fabrizio Romano. The Gunners view re-signing the 21-year-old, who is contracted until 2024, as a priority.

– 90min claims Villarreal will demand a club record transfer fee of more than £40m (€46m) for defender Pau Torres, who is being pursued by Unai Emery's Aston Villa in January.

Real Madrid could bid €10m (£8.7m) for Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta in January, reports SPORT. Azpilicueta signed a new deal before this season started but has been used sparingly.

Graham Potter opted for Cesar Azpilicueta ahead of recent arrivals Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana as Chelsea switched to 4-3-3 in their new head coach's first game.

The Blues operated in a 3-4-3 system for most of Thomas Tuchel's tenure, but the German was dismissed after an underwhelming start to the season.

Potter was convinced to leave Brighton and Hove Albion for Stamford Bridge and made three changes ahead of his first game at home to Salzburg in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Thiago Silva returned to the starting line-up, with club captain Azpilicueta partnering the centre-back as Potter decided to leave out Koulibaly and Fofana, who were recruited from Napoli and Leicester City respectively.

Jorginho came in to the midfield trio, along with Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount, while former Brighton defender Marc Cucurella replaced Ben Chilwell at left-back.

Chelsea continued with the same front three, though – Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up top, the latter making his home debut for the Blues.

The Blues lost 1-0 at Dinamo Zagreb in their Group E opener, which was Tuchel's 100th game in charge, and also his last.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta has heaped praise on the club's new owners for showing "great ambition" in the transfer market.

The Blues entered the window restricted by sanctions imposed by the UK government on Roman Abramovich, which prevented any new signings from being made or new contracts being offered to players.

Such uncertainty ended with the completion of a takeover led by American Todd Boehly and Thomas Tuchel has been backed at the start of a new era.

Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly are among the new signings made by the London club, with Barcelona duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong potentially on their way to Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta signed a new deal after being a target for Barca and the defender is excited about what Chelsea could achieve with the quality of signings they have made.

"It's very important that we keep the ambition high and keep winning trophies - and we have showed that with our transfers and the new players coming in," he told Sky Sports.

"I've seen a great ambition, they [the owners] have been very transparent and honest since the first day. 

"We've seen straight away in the transfer window and it's not easy to step up after just a few months of sanctions where you can't make any movements.

"In football, the competition is really high. You have more teams who want players and it's very difficult. Sometimes you need a bit more time, but we've had a great recruitment until now. 

"They [the new owners] have shown in other sports how successful they have been and I am fully confident that we will have a successful period as a club."

While Azpilicueta would not comment specifically on any names, he did suggest he expects further new arrivals.

"We're still working on more until the last day. There's still some movement around and I'm very excited," he added.

Cesar Azpilicueta has admitted he came close to leaving Chelsea for Barcelona last season, but that he ultimately felt a responsibility to remain "in my home".

The Blues skipper penned a new two-year contract extension earlier this month, to end weeks of speculation over his future, after the club triggered a 12-month extension clause before his prior deal expired amid the off-season.

The Spaniard completed a sweep of major honours at Stamford Bridge with the Club World Cup in February, and says that he felt ready to consider a move back to his home country in the aftermath.

But the subsequent sanctions imposed against owner Roman Abramovich amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw him have a change of heart, with a desire to stand by the team as they transitioned to the Todd Boehly era.

"Yes the conversations were there [with Barcelona]," Azpilicueta was quoted by The Guardian. "After the Club World Cup, where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, I felt it was the time to go back.

"But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club. I never did anything against my club.

"We had private conversations where I said everything. We had players leaving, and I have never been in a transfer market situation in 10 years. It was different. For a period I was a free agent.

"Who knows what could have happened in that period. I decided to stay silent because I think there was already enough noise around me. I didn’t want to make it worse because I wanted to stay focused on my game.

"I had a meeting with the new owners. They wanted me to stay here to lead the team both on and off the pitch. It’s a big thank you to them. They were very honest and transparent from the first day.

"I felt a responsibility to stay here in my home. My family are happy here. We have a new project with new players and youngsters coming in. I feel right and ready to look forward."

Azpilicueta started Chelsea's first game of the new Premier League season on Saturday, as Thomas Tuchel's side ran out 1-0 victors against Everton.

The Blues next face Tottenham, in an early test of their top four credentials, on Sunday.

Cesar Azpilicueta has ended speculation that he could join Barcelona by signing a new contract with Chelsea until 2024.

The long-serving captain had less than a year left on his previous deal with the Blues and emerged as a target for Barca.

Azpilicueta will not be returning to his homeland, though, after the defender agreed to remain at Stamford Bridge for at least another two seasons.

The 32-year-old joined the London club from Marseille in August 2012 and has won every major trophy during his decade at Stamford Bridge.

He has won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, lifted the Europa League on two occasions, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

The skipper said: "I am really happy to extend my stay at Chelsea, my home. It is almost 10 years since I first arrived and joined the club so I really feel the love and I am really excited for the new project we have in our hands.

"I would like to say thank you to Mr Todd [Boehly, Chelsea chairman and co-controlling owner] and Mr Behdad [Eghbali, Blues co-controlling owner] for giving me the opportunity to keep my journey at this amazing club and I am really looking forward to continuing our adventure. I am a really proud captain and I hope we can share many good memories together."

Azpilicueta's decision to stay at Chelsea is a major boost for head coach Thomas Tuchel ahead of his side's first game of the Premier League season at Everton on Saturday.

The Spain international, who has played in a back three and as a wing-back under Tuchel, made 47 appearances last season to take his total for the Blues to a mammoth 476.

Boehly said: "We are so happy that Cesar is staying at Chelsea for a minimum of two more years. We are thrilled with our captain showing his exemplary commitment and leadership yet again. There is still so much to do together."

It is becoming increasingly likely that Chelsea striker Timo Werner will be on his way out of Stamford Bridge with reports he has been offered to Real Madrid, while Newcastle United are also investigating a possible loan.

The two new teams linked with Werner come after Bild reported recently he was willing to take a 50 per cent pay-cut to return to former club RB Leipzig, indicating the Blues are well and truly shopping him around.

The 26-year-old scored only four Premier League goals in 21 appearances last season, though also recorded four goals and two assists in his five Champions League contests.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA'S WERNER ON THE WAY OUT

Chelsea and Madrid have been in recent contact about the Spanish side's interest in 20-year-old Armando Broja – who Thomas Tuchel is said to be a fan of – though El Larguero is reporting that the London club put Werner on the table instead.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Mirror claims Newcastle have also touched base about a potential loan deal, and the report states they are currently a more likely landing spot than his former club Leipzig.

His reported weekly wage of £270,000 per week would need to be significantly reduced to accommodate a move to either Leipzig or Newcastle, and that could be where Madrid come into the equation.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Athletic is reporting that Brighton have put their foot down on a £50million asking price for 24-year-old left-back Marc Cucurella, who Manchester City is aggressively chasing.

Newcastle have had a £40m bid for Leicester City's James Maddison rejected, with his price-tag said to be at least £50m, according to the Times.

– Sport is reporting that Barcelona still have the intention of signing Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso from Chelsea, despite the English club marking them off-limits after being beaten to the signing of Jules Kounde by Barca.

Milan have agreed to a £26.9m deal for exciting 21-year-old Club Brugge midfielder Charles de Ketelaere, according to Calciomercato.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting that Stoke City are in advanced discussions to secure young Man City midfielder Liam Delap on loan.

Newcastle United are planning a move for out-of-favour Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, with the Germany international's price tag believed to be in the range of £25million (€29.5m).

Draxler, 28, has spent the past six seasons with the French giants, but his last campaign was mostly from a bench role, with 13 of his 18 Ligue 1 appearances coming as a substitute.

He also had two separate injuries that forced him to miss over a month each time, but with 58 senior caps for Germany and a World Cup right around the corner, he could be a savvy purchase for a club desperate for a marquee signing.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENQUIRE ABOUT VERY AVAILABLE DRAXLER

According to French publication Le 10 Sport, Draxler is on Paris Saint-Germain director of football Luis Campos' "blacklist" of players who have no future at the club.

The report says he has been asked to find a way out, and with a relatively low price tag – around half the £40m demanded by Lyon in Newcastle's reported pursuit of Lucas Paqueta – the stars could be aligning for the Magpies to land an established international on a cheaper deal.

Draxler was left out of PSG's pre-season squad for the recent tour of Japan, indicating he already has one foot out the door, but it remains to be seen if Newcastle will be his landing spot.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are reportedly willing to part ways with Timo Werner, with Foot Mercato claiming the forward was included in an offer to former club RB Leipzig  in exchange for defender Nordi Mukiele, who appears to be PSG-bound.

– Sport believes Chelsea will block Barcelona moves for Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso due to the Spanish club's chase of Blues target Jules Kounde.

– The Guardian is reporting that Gianluca Scamacca will have his medical this week before confirming a £35.5m move from Sassuolo to West Ham.

– According to Calciomercato, Milan have increased their bid for Club Brugge midfielder Charles de Ketelaere to €32m, and are also trying to secure a move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech.

Barcelona have told Memphis Depay to find a new club after Robert Lewandowski's arrival, according to AS.

Thomas Tuchel does not intend to give in to Cesar Azpilicueta's demand for a cut-price exit to Barcelona. 

Azpilicueta has reportedly asked to leave Stamford Bridge for Barca, who have already signed Andreas Christensen after his Blues contract expired.

It has been suggested that a £55million move for Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde could pave the way for the Spaniard to leave for Camp Nou. 

However, Tuchel is standing firm and does not want to let Azpilicueta leave on the cheap, saying he was "maybe a little bit" annoyed by Barca's pursuit of the player. 

"It's a tough question because I'm not sure if I want to give Azpi what he wants," said Tuchel, as quoted by Standard Sport. 

"At some point it is about what we want. I just made the comparison about how much we fought for [Kalidou] Koulibaly, who is a national team player and roughly the same age. 

"He is a hugely important player for Napoli but we have a Spanish international who is the captain at Chelsea. I see him maybe at the same level, but Barcelona don't see him on that level. So I am not sure if I want to give him what he wants as he is a huge player. 

"We don't think so much about other clubs. The focus is on us and what we need. I said that to him and I say it to you that I understand on a personal and a career level. But I am not only in this role to give him what he wants. I am a manager for Chelsea who wants to do what's best for Chelsea. 

"He doesn't like it but he understands. It is tough for him because the other club is permanently on him. On September 1 when things calm down, then he can play on his highest level." 

Tuchel poured cold water on reports that striker Timo Werner is keen to return to Germany after failing to make an impact following his arrival from RB Leipzig in 2020. 

"I don't think so, so I don't know about it. Timo has not talked to me about it," said Tuchel. 

"At the moment I think he wants to make his way at Chelsea. He still has to prove a point." 

Frenkie de Jong reportedly has no interest in signing with Manchester United, instead preferring either Chelsea or Bayern Munich if he is to leave Barcelona.

De Jong has been at the centre of Barcelona's transfer period, with widespread belief that the club must sell the 25-year-old to balance their books.

The Netherlands international has racked up 140 club appearances for Barcelona in his three seasons since arriving from Ajax, and he is determined to have a say in where he spends the next few years of his prime.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG PREFERS CHELSEA, BAYERN OVER OLD TRAFFORD MOVE

In an explosive report from Spanish publication Sport, it says De Jong "does not like the city of Manchester or the functioning of United", with claims he feels the club has displayed "erratic behaviour" in recent years.

It also makes clear that he values Champions League football greatly at this point in his career, and any move away from the Spanish giants would need to land him at a club on equal footing.

According to the report, Chelsea are waiting for De Jong to officially decline United's approach before presenting a formal offer, but there is interest. 

Ultimately, he would prefer to stay at Barcelona, and if the club cannot clear up the issue of his significant unpaid wages, he may get his way.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea have set their sights on 20-year-old RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, with The Sun declaring him the Blues' top target to replace Cesar Azpilicueta.

– Sky Sports Germany is reporting Borussia Dortmund are weighing up the potential signing of 35-year-old Luis Suarez in the wake of news that Sebastien Haller will be out indefinitely after the discovery of a testicular tumour.

West Ham remain engaged with Chelsea as they try to pry away 20-year-old Albanian striker Armando Broja, who Thomas Tuchel is said to be a fan of.

– With fullback Marc Cucurella likely heading to Manchester City, Brighton are considering a loan move for Arsenal's Nuno Tavares to plug the hole, according to O Jogo.

– The Guardian claims Jesse Lingard is in advanced talks to join Nottingham Forest, with the Daily Mail adding they have offered £200,000 to try and fend off interest from West Ham.

Barcelona are looking to strengthen their defence in the transfer market after club president Joan Laporta claimed they had seen off competition from Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain for Robert Lewandowski.

The Catalan giants have made several additions as Xavi bids to better last season's second-placed league finish, acquiring Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, Leeds United's Raphinha and Bayern Munich great Lewandowski.

Barca finished some 13 points behind rivals Real Madrid last season, although that represented an achievement of sorts with the Catalan giants having sat ninth in LaLiga when Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman.

In an interview with Hristo Stoichkov for TUDN during Barca's pre-season tour of the United States, Laporta said their business is not yet complete.

"Now we are going to work on the defence," Laporta said. "Xavi has us oriented with a series of players and I hope that the Catalans will have new joys, because the Catalans like Lewandowski.

"This team gives you a guarantee of work, it gives you a guarantee that the players have a profile that is hungry, and we are trying to ensure that they have a better environment. 

"Xavi knows what the fans want, so that when we go to the stadium we have a good time and see that genuine style, playing football with maximum expression and also with goals. 

"Verticality, pressure, possession, control of the ball, all this Xavi wants to implement at its maximum expression."

Barcelona have been strongly linked with moves for Chelsea duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso after boasting just the sixth-strongest defensive record in LaLiga last season, conceding 38 goals (more than Sevilla, Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad and Villarreal).

Meanwhile, 12 teams in the Spanish top flight bettered Barca's tally of 11 clean sheets last season.

The signing of Lewandowski, who scored 50 goals in all competitions during his final season with Bundesliga champions Bayern, represents the biggest coup of the transfer window for Barcelona, and Laporta claims they were not the only party pushing hard to sign him.

"We made a first offer and it ended at 45 [million euros], plus five. It's within our possibilities, the player has also adjusted his salary to be within our possibilities and the Catalans are now very happy", Laporta added. 

"We have competed with teams like PSG and Chelsea, and the player wanted to come to Barca. This is what I like.

"As Johan [Cruyff] said, 'I want players who want to come to Barca', and we have to thank him because he has been earning less and enduring great pressure from Bayern, for whom I have great respect.

"Barca needs, like any great team, a goalscoring striker. He is a goalscoring machine gun. 

 

"This player has been awarded the golden boot several times, if you look at his record he guarantees a goal, and every great team needs a striker who guarantees you goals.

"I think that Johan would like Lewandowski – he is a goalscoring striker, different from others we have had.

"Also, with [Ousmane] Dembele, Raphinha, Ferran Torres, who for me is a player who has a goal and has a lot of potential, all of them and Ansu [Fati], [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang - it's going well, it's progressing very well, we have a forward [line] with guarantees of putting on a show and scoring goals.

"I want Barca to become a world reference again. In the economic sphere, we are recovering the club, we are achieving it, although we have to work more. 

"But the football side of things does not wait and I think we are doing a good job."

Thomas Tuchel has achieved his "top priority" for the transfer window by signing Raheem Sterling, while the Chelsea head coach cannot foresee Robert Lewandowski arriving.

Sterling joined Manchester City for a reported fee in the region of £45million on Wednesday, as Chelsea confirmed their first signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the Blues.

The England international, who signed a five-year deal with Chelsea, scored 17 goals in all competitions for City last season, a tally bettered by only Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has also been linked to Stamford Bridge, alongside Barcelona's top target Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in all competitions last term, the most of any player across Europe's top five leagues, and Tuchel appreciates his quality but does not envisage bringing him in.

"I don't think we have a chance for Lewandowski but if there is a chance, he is one of the best number nines," said Tuchel.

"The priority is not on the number nine position right now. We have our top priority [Sterling], we have got our top priority signed. It makes me very, very happy and from there we are very flexible.

"He was the absolute number one for that position. I gave his name to Todd straight away. Every time we played against him, he's horrible to play against, horrible!

"The main point is his intensity and the amount of repetition of intensity that he delivers. This is simply outstanding over the last years.

"It's exactly what we need to raise the level of our players. That's why we are so sure and that's why he was, for us, top of the list.

"Our goal threat should be enough right now. If we think something crazy comes up that we don’t see, maybe we will get involved, maybe not."

 

The versatile Sterling is expected to bring experience to the Chelsea attack, a feature lacking at the back for the Blues after the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Cesar Azpilicueta is reportedly wanted by Barca as well, while Chelsea appear set to bring in Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to somewhat fill the void in defence.

The minimum requirement for success under Boehly will be a top-four Premier League finish to qualify for the Champions League, and Tuchel acknowledged he must rebuild to develop a competitive squad.

"I think with Thiago [Silva] in the middle, Toni on the left and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] or Andreas [on the right] we had the best back-three in the world," he added.

"It's possible [to rebuild at short notice]. We can, we have to. I think we can put a structure in place and we have a structure on which we can rely on.

"For example, if we play against Everton, Thiago can play, Trevoh Chalobah can hopefully play, and Azpi is at the moment here. 

"If there are guys still to be signed or not fully aware of the principles, I don't want to use it as an excuse. When I came in, I had one day to start with the back-three because it was a fit and I still think it will be a fit.

"The first 10 days or 11 days with the group have been outstanding. The mentality, worth ethic and quality in training is absolutely impressive and this makes me very happy.

"I want to be ready when we play Everton. I want to win and I will demand it from myself, my team and all my players.

"The team will be strong. I am not ready to use it as an excuse even though it is maybe true that we are in transition. We can, I can focus, I think the team can focus on what makes us strong and we can take it step by step and work out how to win games."

While Chelsea made their long-awaited first signing in Sterling, top-four rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have all been busy in the transfer window.

Tuchel was quick to hail the transfer dealings of Antonio Conte, who looks set to seal his sixth signing of the transfer window in Djed Spence, and conceded Chelsea will have to catch up with their competitors.

"I mean it when I said we fight against the best teams and the best coaches, which does not make life easier and they set the bar so high last season, but we start again from scratch," said Tuchel. 

"So we will try again. I can promise you that everybody is ready to try again. We will not give in before we play games. That's why the sanctions did not help. We lost important players and the other teams are recruiting, and did not have the losses that we had.

"If you look at the transfer period of Tottenham with Antonio Conte, it's maybe the strongest team they ever built. Manchester United will not give in, Arsenal will not give in, they've made two big signings already, so we are aware of the situation and try to do our best to be competitive."

Chelsea are looking to swoop in and scoop up Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who has been Manchester United's primary midfield target since the appointment of new boss Erik ten Hag.

De Jong, 25, has 44 international caps for the Netherlands, and has spent the past three seasons with the Spanish giants.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been adamant the club does not want to part ways with the star they paid €75million for back in 2019, but the club's financial position may force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LOOK TO STEAL UNITED TARGET WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ALLURE

De Jong is reportedly been hesitant about a move to United due to the fact that they could not offer Champions League football, and that is where Chelsea will have their advantage in negotiations.

The Metro is reporting the Stamford Bridge club are preparing an offer that will include both players and cash, with €60million as well as Spanish duo Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso said to be on the table.

The elephant in the room regarding a De Jong move is that Barcelona reportedly owe the Dutchman £17m in deferred wages, and the Daily Mail claims he wants the balance fully paid before he signs off on any transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

United have been told they will need to pay £106m in order to secure the signings of Ajax duo Lisandro Martinez and Antony, according to the Daily Record.

– According to i Sport, Chelsea are working on a new contract extension for Reece James, despite three years still remaining on his current deal, in an effort to fend off interest from Manchester City and Real Madrid.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Wolves will send 19-year-old Fabio Silva on a season-long loan to Anderlecht after purchasing him for £35m two years ago.

– The Mirror claims Leeds United are preparing a club-record offer of £32m for 21-year-old Club Brugge midfielder Charles De Ketelaere, who already has eight senior international caps for Belgium.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, the likely departure of Raheem Sterling has put City in a position to offer Riyad Mahrez a contract extension.

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