Luis Enrique rules out mid-season Chelsea move amid Conte exit rumours

The former Barcelona head coach has been heavily linked with the Stamford Bridge hot seat but he is not expected to be interested until the summer

Despite being heavily linked with Chelsea amid reports Antonio Conte will be sacked, Luis Enrique is not interested in taking a new job until the end of the season.

Conte’s position has come under renewed scrutiny after his side’s 4-1 defeat at Watford; a result that came hot on the heels of a 3-0 home loss at the hands of Bournemouth.

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has been linked with the job should Conte be dismissed, although it is thought that Chelsea aren’t immediately interested in doing so.

It is understood, though, he is not interested in cutting short his year-long break from football for any position and Chelsea would likely have to hire a caretaker manager to see out the rest of the season should they opt for the 47-year-old to replace Conte.

Despite their recent poor results, Chelsea’s players have been given three days off by Conte having played twice a week non-stop for over two months, with the busy fixture list being cited for five players having picked up hamstring injuries in recent weeks.

The Blues have also been linked with Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri and Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri while Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim is thought to be considering his options for next season.

Conte — who has been linked with returning to the Italy national team job despite Luigi Di Biagio having been placed in temporary charge on Monday  — has called on the club to publicly back him after reports emerged that he is at odds with Roman Abramovich and the Blues board.

He has, though, hinted that he is unhappy with the club’s transfer policy despite signing Olivier Giroud, Ross Barkley and Emerson Palmieri during the January transfer window.

Conte does, however, intend to see out his current contract in west London — which runs until the end of next season — despite claims he is set to resign.

Should Conte depart the Premier League champions, Paris Saint-Germain are likely to be interested in bringing in the ex-Juventus boss amid doubts over the suitability of Unai Emery.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, are reportedly considering the future of Zinedine Zidane after the Blancos’s dramatic slump during the 2017-18 campaign, with Conte mooted as a potential replacement.Source : www.goal.com

Disappointing to leave Arsenal but Chelsea move ‘made sense’ – Giroud

The 31-year-old made the shock switch to Stamford Bridge at the end of the transfer window and hopes to have better luck finding first-team football

Olivier Giroud has admitted that he was disappointed to leave Arsenal but is looking forward to a fresh challenge at Chelsea.

The 31-year-old striker signed for the Blues for £18 million from their London rivals after Arsenal snapped up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund, while Michy Batshuayi went from Stamford Bridge on loan to the German club.

Having started just one of his 16 appearances in the Premier League this season after the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette, Giroud sought a move away from Arsenal in January in order to play more regularly.

“The fact is that the coach wanted to recruit a new striker and with Aubameyang’s signing at Arsenal, there were three top strikers, and that’s why I decided to leave,” Giroud told Telefoot.

“It made sense for me to take a new direction in my career. There was a bit of disappointment, even though I spent five wonderful years there.

“I could have stayed, but I needed a solution to get back in. I wanted to stay in the Premier League and Chelsea was a great opportunity for me.”

He added that France boss Didier Deschamps had hinted that he needed to move in order to win a berth at the World Cup in the summer.

“I spoke with Deschamps,” he said. “He didn’t tell me to move to Chelsea, but he did tell me to move clubs.”

The opportunity to work with Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge was one he did not wish to turn down and he is hopeful of challenging Alvaro Morata for game time.

“My choice was quite clear and obvious when I knew that Antonio Conte wanted to work with me,” he added.

“The conversation was more important, I know that Conte appreciates my profile, we will work well together.

“[Morata and I] are the two main strikers at Chelsea. There will be good competition between us.”

Indeed, Chelsea were far from alone in chasing the centre-forward.

“Dortmund were interested in me, but for a loan, there was Sevilla too and at one point my agent received a call from Roma,” he revealed.

Giroud spent five and a half years at Arsenal after signing from Ligue 1 side Montpellier and went on to win three FA Cups with Arsene Wenger’s side.

Arsenal want Chelsea to pay £35m for Giroud

The completion of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang deal could see Olivier Giroud move to Chelsea for £35 million, according to the Daily Mail .

Giroud would head to Stamford Bridge if the Blues meet the Gunners’ valuation of the Frenchman, who would be available to play in the Champions League.

For Dortmund’s part, the Bundesliga outfit are said to be targeting former Koln striker Anthony Modeste as Aubemeyang’s replacement at Signal Iduna Park.

[Source: www.goal.com]

CHELSEA 3 NEWCASTLE UNITED 0: BATSHUAYI BRACE BOOKS FIFTH-ROUND FA CUP SPOT

Chelsea bounced back from their EFL Cup semi-final defeat to book an FA Cup fifth-round spot by beating Newcastle United 3-0 at home.

Michy Batshuayi struck a first-half brace as Chelsea cruised into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over a lacklustre Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The striker is rumoured to be heading out on loan ahead of Wednesday’s transfer deadline but demonstrated his goalscoring ability with a double to help the Blues bounce back from their midweek EFL Cup semi-final disappointment against Arsenal.

Antonio Conte has been linked with a string of strikers, including Edin Dzeko, Andy Carroll and Ashley Barnes, in a bid to add back-up for Alvaro Morata, but on this evidence the answer may lie closer to home.

Chelsea took the lead after a low-tempo opening half-hour, Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso combining to tee up Batshuayi after Pedro’s long pass opened Newcastle up.

Batshuayi recorded his 10th goal of the season in all competitions shortly before the break, Jamaal Lascelles’ attempted block from the Belgian’s shot looping the ball over goalkeeper Karl Darlow and in.

Alonso’s sublime 25-yard free-kick wrapped up the victory and Chelsea’s unbeaten run at home stretches to 15 matches, while Newcastle’s appalling FA Cup record continues, with the Magpies last reaching the fifth round in 2006.

Gary Cahill’s mistimed header from a Hazard corner was the only attacking incident of a poor opening 20 minutes, with Dwight Gayle having failed in an early attempt to win a penalty.

Massadio Haidara, making his first start of the season at left-back, beat Davide Zappacosta and delivered a fine cross for Jonjo Shelvey, but the midfielder’s volleyed effort was easily turned around the post by Willy Caballero.

Chelsea had barely threatened but the Premier League champions broke the deadlock in the 31st minute.

Pedro’s long ball was perfectly weighted for Hazard to wait for Alonso’s run and the wing-back slid the ball into the path of Batshuayi to slot home into the gaping goal.

Antonio Rudiger almost curled in a sensational strike, the defender seeing his shot fade wide of the far post after collecting a cross-field Hazard pass and cutting inside off the right flank.

Pedro and Hazard combined again for Chelsea’s second in the 44th minute, the Belgian freeing compatriot Batshuayi for a powerful low strike that looped over the unfortunate Darlow after taking a big deflection off Lascelles.

Caballero made saves from Shelvey and Chancel Mbemba on the brink of half-time to protect the Blues’ two-goal lead and Pedro fired narrowly over the crossbar shortly after the restart.

Darlow made a tremendous save to keep out Alonso’s deflected volley but the goalkeeper was left helpless from the defender’s free-kick in the 72nd minute.

Alonso has carved out a reputation as one of the Premier League’s finest set-piece takers and his seventh goal of the season in all competitions was a beauty, a 25-yard curler that bent out of Darlow’s reach.

Although Darlow twice denied Batshuayi his hat-trick, a three-goal lead allowed Conte to introduce Ross Barkley for his home debut while youngsters Ethan Ampadu and debutant Callum Hudson-Odoi were given cameos, but the Italian will likely want further squad additions before the closure of the transfer window.

Cristiano Ronaldo ready to quit Real Madrid for Chelsea after dream Man Utd move dashed

The Sun claim Ronaldo is ‘open to a move to Stamford Bridge’ after growing fed up in Spain.

Ronaldo is said to want to quit Real Madrid in the wake of the tax issues and with the side faltering in La Liga.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are struggling in the league and sit fourth after 20 games, 16 points behind leaders Barcelona.

Ronaldo’s dream of a move back to Manchester United is over after the signing of Alexis Sanchez and now he’s looking at other options.

And Chelsea are said to be his choice.

A source told the Sun: “Ronaldo to Chelsea would be a stunning deal, but it makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

“Chelsea need more attacking players and if United don’t want Ronaldo, it’s very unlikely he would go to Liverpool or Man City because of the rivalry.

“So that leaves Chelsea as the only club who could afford his wages.

“It would also mean he was living in a cosmopolitan city, which is something that is important to him now he has four children.”

Chelsea will come under pressure from Real Madrid in the summer with Eden Hazard on their radar – and Ronaldo could even act as a replacement for the Belgium star.

Ronaldo has been linked with Chelsea in the past with Roman Abramovich an admirer and he would have the financial clout to pull it off.

The 32-year-old has still scored 19 goals this term – with nine in the Champions League – despite his and Madrid’s struggles.

[Source: www.express.co.uk]

Who will win, Chelsea or Arsenal?

The London behemoths are gearing up for their fifth competitive match of the season and it is likely to be a tight affair

A place in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City is the reward that awaits either Arsenal or Chelsea as they prepare to face off at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The sides could not be separated when they met at Stamford Bridge in the first leg earlier in the month, with neither team finding the net, so the tie is delicately poised.

Antonio Conte’s Blues come into the game on a 12-game winning streak and brimming full of confidence following their 4-0 win over Brighton at the weekend.

Antonio Conte calm despite Chelsea missing out on Virgil van Dijk

The 26-year-old’s £75m switch from Southampton to Liverpool was agreed on December 27, with the Dutchman finally sealing his switch to Anfield at the start of the January transfer window.

Conte, who insisted his club would attempt to continue strengthening their squad in the current transfer window, admitted Chelsea worked hard to acquire Van Dijk.

Andreas Christiansen new deal at Chelsea

Andreas Christensen signs new four-and-a-half-year deal at Chelsea

Defender said: ‘It feels really good to sign a new contract and I’m just happy to be committed to Chelsea for the future’.
The 21-year-old has been earmarked to replace Blues legend John Terry and has kept Brazil star David Luiz out of the side at times this season.