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Moises Caicedo must be Chelsea’s next transfer target

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Chelsea are currently in the process of rejigging their recruitment department, with talks on to find a sporting director capable of leading the Blues’ transfer dealings for the coming years.

PSG advisor Luis Campos has been spoken to and so has Red Bull Salzburg’s Christoph Freund, with Chelsea owner Todd Boehly keen to hear a number of different perspectives before deciding who he will put his faith in for the next transfer windows.

Regardless of who gets hired for the role, their first job should be striking a deal for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo.

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Chelsea have spent a lot of money on their attack and even more on their defence, and while results at both ends of the field are still very much a work in progress, all that spending has done is highlight the significant deficiency in midfield.

Issues in the centre of the park are nothing new to Chelsea, but they seem to be getting progressively worse as the core group of players continue to lose their battle with Father Time.

Jorginho, who turns 31 in December, was never particularly mobile at the best of times, while 31-year-old N’Golo Kante has been picking up injury after injury after injury over the past few years.

The Frenchman, who is Chelsea’s only defensively inclined midfielder, has barely been available over the past few seasons and is obviously approaching the twilight of his career. An alternative, if not a replacement, should have been sourced long before the Deadline Day panic signing of Denis Zakaria on loan from Juventus.

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Finding a like-for-like replacement for Kante is nearly impossible, but that doesn’t even matter. Chelsea need somebody who can combine above-average defending with energy and purpose in midfield, and Caicedo brings all that to the table.

The Ecuador international would have been an intriguing signing last summer but, with former Brighton man Graham Potter now in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, this one almost feels like a no-brainer.

Moises Caicedo, Graham Potter

Potter knows Caicedo well / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Under Potter, Caicedo emerged as one of the Premier League’s most exciting midfield powerhouses. While not a conventional defensive midfielder, the 20-year-old has operated as both an anchor man and a box-to-box midfielder, flashing the sort of tactical versatility that Potter demands of his players.

Chelsea haven’t had a player like that in years, since Kante’s smile proved too big for his muscles to withstand, and for some reason, the idea of signing another one permanently has not been pursued.

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The Blues passed on Aurelien Tchouameni in 2021, deeming the Frenchman too inexperienced for such a move. Instead, Saul Niguez was signed on loan, endured a disasterous campaign and returned to Atletico Madrid to share a city with Tchouameni, who sealed a €100m move to Real Madrid that already looks like a bargain.

This summer, the focus was on the defence, so much so that Chelsea didn’t even make a move for a midfielder until Deadline Day. Ajax’s Edson Alvarez was a target before Zakaria eventually joined in a Saul 2.0 loan move.

Chelsea can no longer ignore the hole in their midfield. Their current crop are all getting on in years, while Kante and Jorginho are both approaching the end of their contracts. The time to buy a new midfielder is not now, it was 12 months ago. Now, it’s not optional. It’s a necessity.

Caicedo is going to join a top side very soon and he has openly admitted that he would join Chelsea if the Blues came calling. The seeds have already been sewn.

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Under contract until 2025, Caicedo is an attainable option for Chelsea. He understands the league and has already mastered the methods of the manager, allowing him to settle in faster than an overseas player who poses more of a risk.

It makes all the sense in the world. That usually wasn’t enough for the old Chelsea regime, but whoever gets the gig this time needs to flip the record and make sure it is for them.



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Newcastle set to finalise deal for Garang Kuol

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Australia international Garang Kuol is set to finalise a move to Newcastle United, sources have told 90min.

90min revealed earlier this month that Newcastle were in talks with his club Central Coast Mariners, and now a deal is understood to be in place with Eddie Howe’s side seeing off competition from various clubs, including German giants Borussia Dortmund.

Newcastle were waiting for Kuol to complete his international duty with Australia this month before finalising the deal. The 18-year-old made his debut against New Zealand on Sunday and is now believed to be heading to Europe.

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Kuol and his camp have already agreed terms with Newcastle ahead of a move that would be finalised in January – at which point the Magpies will decide on what to do with him in the short-term.

Scott SaundersGraeme BaileyToby Cudworth and Sean Walsh bring you a brand new episode of Talking Transfers. The team discuss Jude Bellingham’s future, Bayern Munich’s interest in Harry Kane, widespread Premier League interest in Mykhaylo Mudryk and plenty more. Available on all audio platforms.

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download the episode in full!

As it stands, Kuol would not qualify for a work permit, but that matter could change quickly if he is involved at the World Cup finals. This won’t be known until manager Graham Arnold names his squad in a few weeks.

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Newcastle are understood to already have a plan in place to send Kuol on loan to another league in Europe – the length of which will be determined by his work permit standing.





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Chelsea vs West Ham – WSL preview: TV channel, live stream, team news & prediction

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Chelsea face West Ham at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday evening in the first of the rearranged fixtures from the WSL’s postponed opening weekend.

WSL champions Chelsea chalked up their first points of the season on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Manchester City, having been surprisingly beaten the previous week at Liverpool.

It’s also one win and one defeat thus far for West Ham as the Hammers continue to find their feet under new boss Paul Konchesky.

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When is kick off? Wednesday 28 September, 19:05 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel/livestream? BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website
What time does coverage start? 19:00 (BST)
Referee? Tom Reeves

Pernille Harder remains a doubt, having sat out Chelsea’s opening two WSL matches with a hamstring injury – although she did return to the grass on Friday.

Hayes opted to play two defensively minded fullbacks in Magdalena Eriksson and Maren Mjelde on Sunday to deal with Manchester City’s strong wide threat, and could change it up once more on Wednesday.

Paul Konchesky has named an unchanged side in his first two competitive matches as West Ham boss, and could make it three from three against Chelsea.

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Chelsea: Berger; Buchanan, Bright, Eriksson; Charles, Cuthbert, Fleming, Reiten; James, Kerr, Kirby.

West Ham: Arnold; Shimizu, Parker, Cissoko, Smith; Longhurst, Brynjarsdottir; Evans, Hayashi, Ziu; Asseyi.

Having bounced back from their opening day disappointment, Chelsea will be expected to continue their winning run against West Ham.

Lauren James and Fran Kirby look back after injury and illness disrupted their 2021/22 campaigns, and form a frightening forward line with Sam Kerr. They should have too much for Konchesky’s still evolving West Ham side.

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Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 West Ham



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Man Utd already showing key signs of improvement after flying WSL start

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Manchester United fell short in their efforts to finish in the WSL top three last season because too often they were unable to kill games off.

Marc Skinner’s side were five points adrift of third place in the final standings, narrowly costing the club a place in the Champions League for the second season running.

Late equalisers in the final 15 minutes of games against Everton, Tottenham, West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester City cost United 10 points from winning positions. In those games, Arsenal and City had been reduced to 10 players, while Tottenham and West Ham equalised in stoppage time.

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On top of that, United also failed to break down a resilient Aston Villa in the closing stages of the season, drawing 0-0 in a game they were heavy favourites to win.

Throughout the second half of last season, Skinner was very up front about the need to recruit well during the summer to ensure United always had sufficient attacking options and depth to successfully kill games off or beat compact defences and low blocks.

Two games into 2022/23 and the signs of improvement in those key areas are clear to see. So far, United have blown Reading away in the first 35 minutes of a game and beaten West Ham by two goals in a fixture that also served to exorcise some demons from last season.

Last season away at West Ham, United went ahead early in the second half but couldn’t build on that lead and it left them exposed to then conceding in the dying moments.

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This time, Lucia Garcia’s clinical opener that saw the new arrival from Spain round the goalkeeper and impressively finish from a narrow angle was almost immediately added to by Hannah Blundell, who calmly guided the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

That was the critical thing that United didn’t do enough last season when it really mattered.

Garcia in particular has characterised the way United have got better since last season in that respect, providing a different kind of vital skillset to other players in the squad.

“She’s wonderful. She attacks lines,” Skinner told club media after Sunday’s win – United’s first away day victory in London since beating West Ham in October 2020.

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“Just the tenacity to get beyond [Hawa] Cissoko, who is a very tough defender, and then take it round the goalkeeper, then finish. She’s just so nimble, she’s unbelievable.”

As Skinner put his own stamp on the squad, United let Ivana Fuso join Bayer Leverkusen on loan and Kirsty Hanson head to Aston Villa, but brought in Garcia as well as veteran number nine Rachel Williams, Canadian winger Adriana Leon and wide forward Nikita Parris.

“If we face a deep block, we’ve got to have a different way of overcoming it, or a different way of strategizing against a counter attack to the win game. All of my forwards are important,” the United boss said just last week.

It all formed part of a specific strategy aimed at getting United into the Champions League.

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Skinner and his team will face tougher opposition this season than they have played so far. But it has been the perfect start that provides a solid foundation and momentum for what will come.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!





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