Chelsea close to £55m swoop for Raphinha but still face battle over move

Chelsea are close to clinching a £55m deal with Leeds to buy Raphinha after moving in front of Arsenal and Barcelona in the race to sign the Brazil international. The left winger, who has also been a target for Tottenham, is poised to become the second key player to leave Leeds this summer, after Kalvin Phillips, who is joining Manchester City.

Chelsea have opened talks over City’s Raheem Sterling and also want Raphinha as they rebuild their attack. Arsenal, who have agreed a deal to buy Gabriel Jesus from City, have also made attempts to sign Raphinha. However they face the prospect of losing out to Chelsea, who are due to open discussions over personal terms with the 25-year-old.

Raphinha’s preference had been to move to Barça, but the La Liga club’s financial crisis has prevented them from matching Leeds’s valuation. That has allowed Chelsea to move in and agree a fee with Leeds, though there could be a twist should Arsenal decide to raise their initial offer and go to £55m as well.

Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s co-owner, is ready to back Thomas Tuchel’s desire to bring in two attacking players. Tuchel has considered moves for Barça’s Ousmane Dembélé and Everton’s Richarlison, whose main interest has come from Tottenham, but the head coach has focused his immediate attention on Raphinha.

Sterling, who has held talks with Tuchel about life at Stamford Bridge, is expected to cost at least £50m. City are expected to receive Chelsea’s opening offer for the England forward this week.

Chelsea need to improve their quality in the final third and have agreed to loan Romelu Lukaku to Internazionale. Tuchel would like to build a more versatile attack and Raphinha, who can play in a number of roles across the front line, could constitute smart business.

Tuchel is still monitoring Dembélé, who could leave Barcelona on a free. The France winger has not agreed to extend his contract and wants to decide on his future soon. However, his wage demands could be too high for Chelsea, who are yet to make an approach for Richarlison.

Chelsea are also in talks with City over signing Nathan Aké. The centre-back came through Chelsea’s academy and is admired by Tuchel.

He could replace Antonio Rüdiger as Chelsea’s left-sided centre-back.

Tuchel is also looking for a right-sided centre-back after the departure of Andreas Christensen. Chelsea are in talks with Juventus over Matthijs de Ligt but if the Dutchman proves too expensive they could make another push to sign Sevilla’s Jules Koundé. Chelsea have also been linked with Inter’s Milan Skriniar, who is a target for Paris Saint-Germain.