Chelsea consider Leão and Gnabry as alternatives to Barça-bound Raphinha

Chelsea have responded to Barcelona closing in on Leeds United’s Raphinha by drawing up new plans in attack, with Milan’s Rafael Leão and Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry both of interest to Thomas Tuchel.

Leeds accepted a £55m offer for Raphinha from Chelsea, who are close to announcing the £50m signing of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, but the Brazilian winger was reluctant to make the move to Stamford Bridge. The 25-year-old’s preference was to join Barça and it appears that the La Liga club have managed to overcome their financial problems by making a suitable offer for the former Rennes player.

The likelihood of missing out to Raphinha is a blow to Tuchel. Chelsea’s head coach wants an unpredictable, clinical wide player and he is expected to focus on forwards who can play in multiple positions. Tuchel wants to create a more flexible attack after struggling to accommodate Romelu Lukaku last season. Any move for Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is dependent on the striker missing out on a move to Barça, who are also close to agreeing a contract extension with the France winger Ousmane Démbéle.

Tuchel, who is a huge admirer of Lewandowski, accepts there is a shortage of top No9s on the market. But he does not want Sterling to be the only forward to join this summer and Chelsea are looking at new targets. They are monitoring developments around Gnabry, who has a year left on his deal at Bayern, and are interested in Leão, who helped Milan win Serie A last season.

Gnabry, who can play on either flank, could be a more attainable target than Leão. Milan, who want to loan Hakim Ziyech from Chelsea, are reluctant to sell Leão and could demand at least £100m for the 23-year-old Portugal winger. Gnabry, a 26-year-old Germany international, could be cheaper because of his contractual situation. The former Arsenal forward scored 17 goals for Bayern last season and helped them win the Champions League in 2020.

Chelsea, who want to strengthen their defence by signing Nathan Aké from City, could also look to make a signing in midfield. They remain interested in Barça’s Frenkie de Jong, though Manchester United remain favourites to sign the Dutchman.

There have also been suggestions that Tuchel could urge Chelsea to bid for the West Ham midfielder Declan Rice this summer. West Ham’s reluctance to sell Rice would make a deal highly difficult, though.

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