Newcastle tracking Chelsea midfielder

Newcastle United are keen on Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, and are hoping to make a move for the 21-year-old this summer.

Gallagher impressed while on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season, and is unlikely to break into the Chelsea squad which features the likes of N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Billy Gilmour, as well as loan returns Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Central midfield is an area which Toon boss Steve Bruce is likely to strengthen in, with Joe Willock back at Arsenal after making an incredible impression during his six-month loan from the Gunners last season. However, it could be a case of the loan working too well, with Willock’s eight goals sending his price tag north of £25m, pricing him out of a permanent move to the North East.

As the takeover rumours rumble on at Newcastle, the transfer budget is set to be slim once again for the Magpies, who managed to finish 12th last season, despite flirting with relegation for most of the campaign. There’s talk of there being just £12m for Bruce to improve his options, meaning the loan market is an avenue the club are likely to explore.

Gallagher will probably be open to another temporary spell away, after leaving West Brom with an improved reputation despite the Baggies going down. As well as scoring two goals and assisting two more, his tally of 2.7 tackles per game average actually ranked him in the top ten players in the league, and a second season playing top flight football would only improve his reputation.

Crystal Palace are also said to be interested in the Epsom-born man, but with no manager in place at Selhurst Park since Roy Hodgson left the club, Newcastle are in pole position as things stand.

Premier League: Aston Villa v Chelsea

After a massive win at home to Leicester City in midweek ensured Champions League qualification was in their own hands, Chelsea try to finish the job at Villa Park on Sunday as they take on Aston Villa.

The Blues went third with the win at Stamford Bridge, having gained revenge for losing the FA Cup final to the Foxes, and will complete the objective set out for Thomas Tuchel when he took over from Frank Lampard back in January should they beat Villa.

Chelsea were ninth when the former PSG boss arrived, and just two league defeats during his reign so far, as well as reaching two cup finals, has surely proved that Roman Abramovich was right to send Lampard packing.

In contrast, Dean Smith’s side’s season practically ended when they beat Tottenham Hotspur last time out, as other results ensured they will finish this season 11th, no matter the result in front of home fans for the first time in 14 months on Sunday.

Despite not capitalising on a chance to push for a European finish this season, this time last year Villa headed into the final game of the season needing to better Watford’s result or face relegation to the Championship. With that in mind, even the most pessimistic of Villa fans would admit this year has been one of huge progress.

As you’d expect, Jack Grealish has been a huge part of that. The winger is back from a calf injury and illness that sidelined him for 12 games between February and May, and his impact was shown against Spurs in midweek. Villa won just three of the games he missed, so his return is a timely boost for both club and country, with Gareth Southgate naming his England squad for Euro 2020 on Tuesday.

Brazilian striker Wesley has played 15 minutes of football since returning from a major ACL injury suffered against Burnley last season and could continue his recovery in front of a packed Holte End, but Matty Cash, Trezeguet and Morgan Sanson are all injured. Ross Barkley also misses out as he’s on loan from Chelsea, and ineligible. Dean Smith has made it clear that his loan won’t be made permanent in the summer, so he’ll be seeking a new club unless Thomas Tuchel tries to shoehorn him into an already packed squad.

For Chelsea, N’Golo Kante is unlikely to be rested ahead of the Champions League final next weekend, after coming off against Leicester as a precaution with a possible hamstring injury. Andreas Christensen is in a similar position with the same problem suffered against Manchester City, and Kai Havertz also has muscle tightness.

A win for Chelsea could see them finish the season just a point behind Manchester United if they lose at Wolves, while Villa can finish 20 points better off than they did last season if they spoil the Blues’ Champions League qualification party.

Aston Villa take on Chelsea at Villa Park on Sunday, May 23rd. Kick-off is at 4pm.

Premier League: Chelsea v West Brom

The Premier League returns from the final international break of the season on Saturday, and Chelsea kick it off when West Brom visit Stamford Bridge for a lunchtime kick-off.

The Blues are well set for the run-in, having tasted defeat under Thomas Tuchel so far, and sit fourth in the table going into the game with the relegation-threatened Baggies.

It could be said that the break helped Chelsea in the past fortnight, as it gave some of their key players chance to recover and not miss any league games. Edouard Mendy underwent a dental procedure instead of playing for Senegal, and Thiago Silva continued his recovery from a thigh injury and is back in contention.

Tammy Abraham is still struggling with an ankle injury and will miss out again and N’Golo Kante is facing a fitness test after leaving the French squad with a hamstring problem.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was part of England u21’s miserable European Championships tournament and is doubtful with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the 2-1 win over Croatia, and Jorginho’s availability is uncertain as he recovers from a knee issue.

West Brom have almost a completely fit squad to choose from, with only Kieran Gibbs struggling with a neck injury. The former Arsenal left-back officially signed for David Beckham’s Inter Miami franchise during the break and will join them at the end of the season.

The only other absentee for the Baggies is Conor Gallagher, who is ineligible to face his parent club.
A win for Chelsea will guarantee they end the gameweek still in fourth place, but they could close the gap on Leicester City to just two points if the Foxes lose this weekend. West Brom can’t move positions either, with a win taking them five points adrift of 18th-placed Fulham as time runs out for top flight survival.

Chelsea take on West Brom at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, April 3rd. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.

Premier League: Chelsea vs Burnley

Tuchel came under some criticism for his defensive line up in the midweek drawer against Wolves but with a couple more days at the training ground under his belt, we should learn a little more about his intended style against the relegation-threatened Clarets.

Sean Dyche will be buoyed by his team’s smash-and-grab performance against Aston Villa in midweek and will hope to pile more misery on a Chelsea team that has only won one of their last six.

Tuchel has almost a full squad to pick from ahead of the clash with N’Golo Kante the only major dought. The midfielder has not featured for the Blues since January 3rd due to a combination of suspension and injury but there is a slim chance he could be ready to feature in some capacity on Sunday.

Burnley won’t go into this match with any fear having won 3 on the bounce including an impressive scalp away at Anfield. They could welcome back Ashley Barnes to the starting 11 after he missed the win over Villa. Midfielder Josh Brownhill and Left-back Charlie Taylor are still sidelined.

With Burnley’s resurgent form it’s not a game that’ll be as simple as it looks on paper for the new Chelsea boss but one thing is certain – he won’t have experienced a team like Burnley before!

12:00 | Stamford Bridge

Premier League: Newcastle United vs Chelsea

Both sides are feeling the effects of the break though, with injuries and fatigue from travelling set to affect both managers’ team selections.

Steve Bruce is unlikely to be able to call upon Miguel Almiron from the start after he only arrived back from Paraguay on Thursday night, roughly the same time as Thiago Silva landed after being part of Brazil’s World Cup Qualifying campaign.

At 36, Silva is set to miss out as Chelsea embark on three games in seven days, meaning Antonio Rudiger or Andreas Christensen could partner Kurt Zouma at the back for the Blues.

Newcastle have had Jonjo Shelvey back in training for the past few days after a hernia operation, although he’s unlikely to start the game as he regains match fitness, and Ryan Fraser is also out after missing Scotland’s qualification for Euro 2020 with a thigh issue.

There’s better news on Callum Wilson though, who Steve Bruce says is desperate to play after coming off with a hamstring worry in the 2-0 defeat to Southampton before the break. The Magpies boss says if there is a risk with his fitness he won’t play, but has looked comfortable in training for the past few days.

Matt Ritchie could make his return to the squad after a shoulder injury picked up earlier this season, but Paul Dummett remains unavailable despite returning to training over a fortnight ago. Dwight Gayle and Martin Dubravka are both still missing also, with the goalkeeper hopeful of returning before Christmas.

With injuries aplenty, you’d think Bruce would be in favour of the five-sub rule coming into effect like it has in the Football League, but he has explained that he’s not in favour of the rule change, saying he doesn’t think fatigue is the real reason players are picking up injuries.

He went on to explain that he thinks it’s the amount of games being played so quickly that’s the problem. Sounds like something five subs could help with if you ask us Steve…

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard confirmed on Thursday that Christian Pulisic remains out for the trip to Newcastle, despite stepping up his training after a hamstring injury. Kai Havertz is also likely to miss out after only rejoining training late in the week after self-isolating at home for two weeks as a result of exposure to COVID-19.

Ben Chilwell missed England’s win over Iceland with a back injury, but should be fit to start against Newcastle, while Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and N’Golo Kante all came through international games comfortably and will be involved again.

Chelsea will go top of the Premier League table with a win at St James’ Park, ahead of Tottenham vs Man City later on Saturday, and Leicester’s game against Liverpool on Sunday night.

Newcastle will be hoping to repeat last season’s result against the Blues though, when Isaac Hayden’s late header earned them a 1-0 win.

Newcastle United take on Chelsea at St James’ Park on Saturday, November 21st. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.

Transfer Round Up: Manchester United edge closer to Sancho deal.

Time is running out as the transfer window nears its closure, but there’s still time for more business to be done in the Premier League.

Manchester United are reportedly closing in on the signing of Jadon Sancho. It’s the transfer saga that’s rumbled on all summer, with Borussia Dortmund and United struggling to agree on a fee for the player with the reds refusing to match the Germans £120m valuation. But transfer guru Fabrizio Romano is saying personal terms have been agreed and the clubs are inching closer to a deal that COULD be finalised this weekend.

West Ham fans are crying out for transfer news but this may not be what they had in mind. West Ham ITK @ExWhuEmployee reporting that the club are currently talking to midfielder Jack Wilshere about terminating his £100k a week contract. The former Arsenal man has made just 16 appearances in two years for the Hammers, who are desperate to free up cash for new recruits.

Across London Chelsea are keen to hang onto N’Golo Kante amongst interest from Inter Milan. The Guardian is reporting that the Italians are tabling a bid that includes Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic but Lampard is keen to hold onto the former Leicester City man.

Gonzalo Higuain (32) will NOT be coming to the Premier League this season! The Argentinian was released by Juventus at the end of last season and was available on a free transfer but it would seem that David Beckham has won the battle for his signature and the former Real Madrid forward will be living the high life in Florida with Inter Miami next season.

Chelsea facing summer overhaul, Kante for sale claim reports

The Blues’ domestic season ended in disappointment on Saturday, losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal at Wembley.

Despite cup final heartache, the future looks bright for Frank Lampard’s side with additions such as Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to feature next season.

Chelsea are also closing in on a deal for Bayern Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz, who has been outstanding in the German Bundesliga this season.

However, additions to the squad means that some players will need to depart Stamford Bridge, and The Times claim that as many as 8 first team stars could leave the club.

The names mentioned include Tiemoue Bakayoko, who has spent the season on loan at Monaco, Ross Barkley, Marcos Alonso, Emerson, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Michy Batshuayi.

Unsurprisingly, Willian and Pedro are also doubts to be involved in 2020/21, with Lampard claiming in Willian’s case the ball is in his court.

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga may also be shown the Stamford Bridge exit door after just two seasons at the club and a world-record price tag.

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion on The Times’ list of Chelsea players available for transfer is N’Golo Kante.

The France international has struggled with injuries this season, and arguably hasn’t performed as consistently for the Blues since before Maurizio Sarri was Chelsea manager.

Despite this, Kante is world class on his day, and it would take a decent offer to prise him away from the Bridge.