Antonio Conte’s Chelsea rebuilding job could be going better.
He’s been frustrated in the transfer market so far this summer, and has only managed to capture Leicester City’s N’Golo Kante and Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi.
But the Italian manager is about to raid South America to kickstart his spending spree, with Santos midfielder Thiago Maia a target in a £15 million deal.
The 19-year-old holding midfielder is part of Brazil’s Olympic squad, and will be scouted further by Chelsea chiefs as they look for reinforcements.
They’ve already made contact about the player, so will be ahead of any rival clubs should he attract any more interest while playing in Rio.
Thanks to the weird way contracts seem to work in Brazil, the player himself is due 30% of any transfer fee, meaning he could be set for a £4.5 million settlement if he does move to London. That could probably get you a month’s rent in Chelsea…
Maia’s agent is the infamous Kia Joorabchian, who sprung to fame when he brokered the deal that took Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez to West Ham in 2006, so there may be a prolonged negotiation period.
Conte is hoping that signing Maia will kick off a busy end to the transfer window for his side, with moves for Romelu Lukaku and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly in the pipeline.
Everton are playing hard ball with Lukaku and holding out for a whopping £75 million fee, and Napoli will make Chelsea pay top dollar for their powerful centre back.
The Blues are ready to bid £40m for the Senegal international, and should they get Lukaku as well, their total spending will be over £150m.
Looks like Conte’s rebuild isn’t coming cheap.