With the summer transfer window now firmly on the horizon, attention has turned as to how Thomas Tuchel can improve his already stellar Chelsea side ahead of next season.
Recent reports from The Athletic have suggested that the west London outfit are amongst the frontrunners in the race for Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, with Premier League rivals Manchester United and Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain the other sides believed to be at the head of the queue for his signature.
The 22-year-old, whose current contract is set to run until 2025, will reportedly fetch in the region of €70m (£58m), although the Eagles’ interim boss Nelson Verissimo has revealed he hopes the Portuguese side demand a similar fee to that of former star Joao Felix, who departed for Atletico Madrid back in 2019 in a £113m deal.
Making a move for the Uruguayan hotshot certainly won’t come cheap, although his arrival could likely bring a swift end to Romelu Lukaku’s second spell at Stamford Bridge, with the Belgian ace heavily linked with a move away from the club this summer.
Since his £97.5m return back in August the 28-year-old has failed to live up to expectations, notably irking his current employers after his explosive comments in a bombshell interview with Sky Italia back in December, in which he teased a potential return to Inter Milan.
Dubbed “disrespectful” for that outburst by club legend Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, the 101-cap international has also been at the centre of criticism for his on-field displays, with his work rate having been called into question by his current boss, Tuchel.
The previously prolific marksman, who netted 64 goals in just 95 appearances during his two-year stint in Italy, has been particularly profligate in front of goal this term, netting just five Premier League goals to date and notably grabbing the headlines for his woeful miss in the Champions League, first-leg defeat to Real Madrid last week.
In truth, the nadir of his Blues homecoming was his display at Selhurst Park in February, in which he touched the ball just seven times in 90 minutes – a record low in the division – with the reportedly unhappy striker unsurprisingly facing an uncertain future at the club.
Amid that uncertainty, the news of a potential deal for £36m-rated star Nunez will be music to the ears of club supporters, particularly with the player having only recently come in for praise from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, ahead of their second-leg tussle at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
While Lukaku has been goal-shy this term, the former Almeria man – who made the move to Portugal in 2020 – has been anything but, plundering 31 goals in just 36 games in all competitions, including 24 goals in 24 league games, as per Transfermarkt.
That form has seen him labelled “brilliant” by former England stopper Paul Robinson, with the youngster having also received hefty praise from his former boss Jorge Jesus, who suggested that he “will be the best in the world” in the years to come.
He has also been described as the “complete forward” by talent scout Jacek Kulig.
His quality also caught the attention of international colleague Luis Suarez, who reportedly recommended him to Barcelona a few years ago, with all the signs pointing towards a player who is set to have a big future at one of Europe’s elite sides.
Whether that future lies at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen, although Tuchel and co would be wise to take the hit on current flop Lukaku, in order to bring in a younger and hungrier talent in the 6 foot 2 taliman, Nunez.
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