LONDON - Chelsea are close to confirming Juventus defender Daniele Rugani as Maurizio Sarri’s second signing. Rugani, 23, is set to cost about £44.6million and getting this deal done could help when it comes to talks over teammate Gonzalo Higuain.
The Argentina striker has been on Chelsea’s radar but Sarri wants to take a closer look at Alvaro Morata in pre- season, starting this week in Australia. They arrived in Perth on Thursday. Chelsea and Juve will switch their attention fully to Higuain once their first bit of business, over a deal for Rugani, is finalised.
The signing of Rugani will leave a question mark over the future of Gary Cahill, although Sarri seems keen to keep him. When asked about the England defender, Sarri said: "With respect to Cahill, I think he can still give us a lot."
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger is the No 1 target for Japan as they look for a new national manager. Vahid Halilhodzic, who took them to the World Cup finals, was sacked two months before the tournament and his successor Akira Nishino’s contract expires at the end of this month.
Now Japan want Wenger to return to the country where he had success in the mid-1990s at Nagoya Grampus Eight. Wenger has an affinity with Japan but is known to prefer club football. Those opportunities in Europe are limited so China would appear to be the most likely destination at club level.
Fulham have made enquiries for Espanyol captain David Lopez. The 28-year-old can play at centre back, defensive midfield and full back. He has a buy-out clause of £35m and Everton have also enquired. Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic is eager for new faces. Talks are ongoing with Newcastle over the purchase of £20m-rated Aleksandr Mitrovic.
Stoke, meanwhile, plan a £10m move for Tom Ince of Huddersfield. Their pursuit of Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie has ended, but Stoke should sign James McClean from West Brom for £6m.