Anthony Martial
Barcelona have put in an improved £64.2million bid for Willian but Manchester United have scuppered Chelsea’s hopes of replacing him with Anthony Martial, according to a report by UK Evening Standard.
Barcelona remain optimistic that they will agree a fee for the Brazilian even though Chelsea are holding out for £70m.
Last week, they turned down a £53m bid for the attacker, who has two years left on his contract but is believed to be keen on making the switch to the Nou Camp, having struggled to hold on to a regular first-team place under previous coach Antonio Conte.
While Chelsea insist Eden Hazard is not for sale, they are willing to allow Willian to go as long as their valuation is met.
He has won four major trophies with them, including the League title in 2015 and 2017, and was the fans’ player of the year in 2016. United are also keen on Willian but, having allowed Nemanja Matic to move to Old Trafford for £40m last summer, Chelsea are not keen to sell to them again.
United boss Jose Mourinho is blocking Chelsea’s attempt to buy Martial, who is also wanted by Tottenham and Bayern Munich.
Martial has less than 12 months left on his deal and, although he wants to leave after missing out on the France World Cup squad, United are still looking to trigger a one-year option in his contract and will not sell to a domestic rival.
Mourinho, who oversaw a dull 0-0 draw against San Jose Earthquakes, spoke about Martial’s desire to leave. “I would like to be in Los Angeles now and I am in San Jose,” he said. “You cannot do whatever you want in life.”
Juventus are also in America and coach Massimiliano Allegri has named two of Chelsea’s targets, Daniele Rugani and Miralem Pjanic, in the squad that is travelling across the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, midfielder Cesc Fabregas admits Chelsea could face a tough start to the season under new boss Maurizio Sarri.
The club were playing their first pre-season friendly against Perth Glory in Australia today with many of their star players missing following the World Cup.
Sarri intends to return to a four-man defence, as well as ditching Conte’s conservative style.
Fabregas said: “He [Sarri] is bringing a different style, a different formation and we just need to grow into it.
“We need to learn. We have been two years with Antonio working in a system with 5-4-1, 3-5-2, depending on the game. It is very different to play with five or three at the back than with four.
“We need time to re-adapt to what the boss wants from us but I believe we are intelligent players and players at the top level who will try to adapt as soon as possible.”
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