Chelsea pricing Mason Mount out of move and could still keep midfielder

The Ben Jacobs Chelsea column was first published exclusively on Si & Dan Talk Chelsea.

It’s never dull at Chelsea that’s for sure. On Sunday night the club pulled out of the race for Manuel Ugarte despite optimism over the past week that they could sign the Sporting midfielder. It’s a complicated saga, so please bear with me as I try to shed some light…

The Chelsea perspective is clear. They argue Ugarte wanted to join and were prepared to meet the €60m release clause, or at least match it in valuation with a different structure. However, Chelsea’s personal terms to Ugarte were less than PSG offered. And the club saw no market value in going any higher so pulled out.

However, here is where things get a little complicated. PSG firmly deny they made any new offer on Sunday to Ugarte and dismiss the notion Ugarte’s salary is €10m. This is termed “nonsense” by multiple sources.

PSG’s offer to Ugarte has always been higher than Chelsea’s (this is an important point), and the French champions maintain they did not need to increase it.

Ugarte is now in Paris for a medical so there’s no way back for Chelsea. And the fact he’s already there is again consistent with terms on the player side already being in place.

PSG argue Chelsea tried to provide Sporting with a stronger structure, and thus get the Portuguese club to put pressure on Ugarte to pick a move to the Premier League.

L’Equipe also broke a story alleging that Chelsea had somehow promised investment in Sporting as part of talks. Chelsea firmly deny this. PSG sources, meanwhile, feel the timing of Chelsea’s withdrawal, after that story came out, is far more than just a coincidence.

Neither club wants a war of words, and it’s vital to be balanced and explain both sides perspectives, even if it makes for a more confusing narrative. But it’s all irrelevant for Chelsea now. They won’t get Ugarte whether he wanted to join or not.

One thing I would add is Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart were leading on this. Ugarte was a target before Mauricio Pochettino joined.

It would be extremely atypical to be talking about investment in the same breath as a transfer, and Chelsea sources again deny this was the case.

It would be normal for both Chelsea and Sporting to now distance themselves from any specifics over a deal that didn’t come off. It’s far easier just to emphasise PSG’s offer to the player was better. And in simple terms, this is correct. PSG always made the more lucrative proposal, which as I understand it is still closer to €5m than €10m.

I think the Ugarte saga shows transfer windows are unpredictable. I know those of you reading want things in black and white. But it’s responsible journalism to give full context, and sometimes that means painting an unclear situation or one that changes.

Chelsea have other midfield targets, including Moises Caciedo. Brighton are braced for offers. Even though he signed a new contract recently, it doesn’t preclude a summer move.

My understanding is his new contract has a clause to help facilitate a transfer, although there is no actual ‘release’ number. With Alexis Mac Allister it’s a bit different, and that’s why Liverpool are on the brink of pulling off a bargain signing. It’s not 100% done at the time I am writing this, but there is a key meeting today and optimism on the Liverpool side he will be their player very soon.

Elsewhere, Kai Havertz could potentially leave the club. He’s not untouchable that’s for sure, for the right offer. And with Karim Benzema off to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia there is no doubt Carlo Ancelotti will be looking for more goals. But I am not sure a deal is quite as imminent or advanced as others have suggests. Let’s see if any talks progress. Real are also considering Bobby Firmino.

And just a final word on Mason Mount. I know a lot of people are reading into his reaction at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona after being asked about Manchester United.

Ultimately, everything will come down to fee if Chelsea decide to sell. The club always intended to pick up talks with Mount at the end of the season, and both the owners and Mauricio Pochettino want him to stay. But if Mount decides to leave, Chelsea do want the fee.

As revealed a few weeks back, Chelsea’s valuation is £15-20m higher than suitors ideally wish to pay. Manchester United are hoping for Mount for under £60m.

Due to both FFP and the uncertainty of the ownership situation at Old Trafford, I don’t see Manchester United tabling anything close to what Chelsea want. So they either need to get the price down or move on to another target. Erik ten Hag does want to get this done, but it’s a bit of balancing act for Manchester United because they have multiple targets and a reasonably tight budget. So now it’s up to the clubs with Mount, and as crucially whether Chelsea still have a hand to show.

The Mount camp, as I understand it, feel like the goalposts with negotiations moved in January, although Chelsea have consistently maintained they have done everything in their power since the new owners came in. I think it’s normal to have slightly different perspectives, especially given talks have been going on for so long. But whatever happens, I hope it doesn’t sour Mount’s time at Stamford Bridge. He has been a fantastic player and character for Chelsea, and whether he stays or goes, this point shouldn’t be forgotten.

Ben Jacobs

1 Comment

  1. Now that’s sports writing! Informative, fair, and clear about what we know and don’t know.

Comments are closed

Chelsea News