Chelsea look set to lose Fikayo Tomori at the end of the season as AC Milan close in on Champions League qualification. Milan thrashed Juventus 3-0 at the weekend to put a three-point gap between themselves and the fifth-placed Bianconeri, with Napoli sandwiched in between.
Tomori has been on loan at Stefano Pioli’s side since January and has made 10 successive La Liga starts, even scoring against Juve on Sunday, and 14 appearances overall.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano tweeted on Monday night: “AC Milan are intentioned to sign Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea on a permanent deal triggering the buy clause [around €28.5m] in case of UCL spot guaranteed. Fikayo would be ‘happy’ to stay. #ACMilan.”
The 23-year-old was struggling for minutes under Frank Lampard but saw the Chelsea manager sacked a week after he moved to Italy.
His successor Thomas Tuchel has enjoyed tremendous success utilising a back-three formation which may have offered Tomori greater minutes at Stamford Bridge.
But if Milan make sure of a top-four finish then it appears Tomori’s Chelsea career may be over given the Italian giants’ desire to sign him permanently for around £24.4million.
Yet the Blues may have a player in house ready to step up and replace the England international without Tuchel having to spend any extra money.
Marc Guehi has enjoyed a brilliant season on loan at Swansea City in the Championship this season, racking up 40 outings for the Swans and producing a series of excellent performances.
His displays helped Swansea finish fourth, conceding just 39 goals in 46 league games – the third-best defensive record in the 24-team division.
Steve Cooper’s side will face Barnsley in the play-off semi-finals to set up a Wembley showdown with either Brentford or Bournemouth for the honour of promotion to the Premier League.
But regardless of the South Wales club’s fate in the play-offs, Guehi has proven his immense promise with a hatful of complete and commanding showings.
Though he missed out on the Championship Team of the Season he has been widely regarded as one of Swansea’s best players this term and is a strong contender for the club’s Player of the year.
A fine ball player, Guehi is an intelligent and athletic defender with great pace and strength. He’s great in the tackle and in the air and offers a real presence, both for his team-mates and to opposing attackers.
He has an exciting blend of mental and physical capabilities that earmark him as a major talent for the future, and a potential leader of the back-line.
Cooper said of Guehi, his former England under-17s captain, last year: “He is definitely older than his age. Marc is a calming influence and when he’s a lot older he will be a real leader and captain.”
Those qualities have only improved with his first full season of men’s football in the Championship, which followed a six-month loan at the Liberty Stadium last term.
The Ivory Coast-born England youth international is said to be attracting interest from West Ham, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Borussia Monchengladbach as a result of his showings.
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Valued at £15million to £20m despite making only two first-team appearances for Chelsea, Guehi is said by The Athletic to have had a 12-month extension clause in his deal activated.
That keeps him tied down at Chelsea until at least 2023 and he should get a pre-season opportunity to show Tuchel his abilities firsthand this summer.
The Londoners are said to rate Guehi highly but The Athletic suggest it is likely he will be loaned out again or sold, potentially with a buy-back clause.
Yet Tuchel should seriously consider leaving a spot in the first-team squad free for Guehi if he plans to continue playing with three central defenders.
Thiago Silva should sign a new contract but is 36 while Antonio Rudiger has impressed since his return to the team, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen also getting regular minutes.
Kurt Zouma is no longer as integral as he was under Lampard though has played more of late with Chelsea juggling Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League commitments.
With Malang Sarr looking like he needs another loan after barely playing for Porto’s first team, , academy graduate Guehi could be a valuable fifth or sixth choice next season if all of those players stay put.
He has the ability to contribute but is young enough to accept a back-up role for now, and would learn a great deal from a player of Silva’s experience.
There are few players of his quality, especially who are homegrown, at Guehi’s age, and it would be wise for the Blues not to ignore his ceiling given they are already giving away one promising central defender in Tomori.
Perhaps a season on loan at Swansea in the Premier League, should they get promoted, might make more sense. But if the Welsh club’s promotion bid fails, Tuchel has a decision to make with Guehi. The defender has ample enough quality to show the German he belongs in Chelsea’s senior squad next year.