Football

Chelsea set to land Bakayoko

Monaco midfielder expected to join Premier League champions by end of the week

Chelsea look set to put the disappointment of losing out on Romelu Lukaku behind them by signing French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, according to the British media yesterday.

The 22-year-old, who played a pivotal role in Monaco winning the French Ligue 1 title and reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season, will cost the English champions up to £39.7 million (S$70.8m), according to The Guardian.

The deal is conditional on him passing a medical - Bakayoko underwent keyhole surgery on his knee after the season ended and is likely to miss the Community Shield match with Arsenal and the first three Premier League games.

There had been speculation Manchester United might try and stymie the bid for Bakayoko - who made his senior international debut earlier this year - just as they did with Lukaku, as they broke the record for a deal between British clubs of £75m to prise him away from Everton on Monday.

However, Bakayoko, whom Monaco will make a tidy profit on having signed him from Rennes for £7m in 2014, had always made clear that Chelsea was his preferred destination.

Bakayoko's arrival - which Chelsea hope to conclude by the time they leave for Asia for a pre-season tour next Monday - should see Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic leave for a similar fee to that of the Frenchman.

However, Chelsea are not keen to sell him to the original suitors Manchester United, as relations between the two rivals have cooled considerably since the Lukaku affair.

NEW RECRUITS

If the deal goes through, Bakayoko will join veteran Argentine goalkeeper Willy Caballero and German defender Antonio Ruediger as new Chelsea recruits.

Another of Monaco's in-demand player, Kylian Mbappe, may have a tougher time finding his way to the exit door though.

Prince Albert II, the patron of the Monte Carlo club, dismissed the idea of Mbappe leaving Monaco, instead talking up the prospect of a new contract with the Ligue 1 champions.

Mbappe is hot property after scoring 26 goals in all competitions last season.

The 18-year-old forward has been linked with Spanish and European champions Real Madrid, as well as Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona.

But Prince Albert II warned France international Mbappe against joining a club like Madrid.

"I don't think (that he will leave)," Prince Albert II told L'Equipe.

"There are ongoing discussions that make me think he will be at Monaco next season.

"The discussions relate to a possible wage hike. But I think that he has understand, his father too, that it is not yet in his interest to go to a huge club, where he is not assured playing time." - WIRE SERVICES

CHELSEA (EPL)