Local sources say Arsenal close in on €80m defender, even though Chelsea need him more

Chelsea target Ousmane Diomande is moving closer to a transfer to Arsenal, O Jogo in Portugal have reported.

Still just 20 years old, the Ivory Coast international has been a key man in Sporting’s almost complete title charge, and is turning heads across Europe because of his progress.

The Gunners are apparently looking to wrap up a deal before any of their rivals – Chelsea included – can get in on the act. Diomande’s €80m release clause is eye-watering, but there’s plenty of scope to force the headline number down if we add in enough clauses and add-ons. O Jogo insist that Sporting won’t accept anything significantly below that, however.

Chelsea’s big needs

This Chelsea team are crying out for a classy, imposing central defender. We’ve bought a bunch of different types in that position, and none have stepped up to the plate this season (apart from Trevoh Chalobah, whom we have to sell to balance the books…)

Diomande wouldn’t immediately fulfil our desperate need for experience, given he’s still very young and learning the game, and isn’t the most outspoken character (at least so far). But he has outrageous physical ability and very solid technical fundamentals, so there’s the clay there to be moulded into a top player.

Arsenal will always have the upper hand, but given they’ve got two young, established options already set in stone at the heart of their defence, it doesn’t seem impossible that we can turn Diomande’s head if we really want.

As ever, the problem at the moment looks to be more financial than anything else. We will have to sell before we buy, and it’s hard to see anyone forking out for our current options like Axel Disasi or Benoit Badiashile.

Levi Colwill will be more tempting to other clubs, but there may be riots at Stamford Bridge if he’s sold.

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