Chelsea transfer news as the Blues get back to business in the market ahead of a key window in January, with their first deal seemingly already done
Chelsea have wasted no time in continuing their assault on the transfer market and have seemingly completed a deal to sign Senegal youngster Pape Daouda Diong. The 17-year-old was spotted at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, watching on as the Blues beat Newcastle on penalties in the Carabao Cup.
Diong is rated as one of the best young talents in Africa and witnessed the win for Mauricio Pochettino’s side from the directors’ box alongside fellow starlet Kendry Paez. The pair are seen as two of the most outstanding players for their age group and form a key part of the club’s recruitment drive, snapping up talent across the world.
Paez has already been confirmed as a Chelsea player but won’t join up with the team until his 18th birthday in 2025. He was signed from Independiente del Valle earlier this year and has been impressing for the senior team despite being just 16. He has already made his senior international debut too, playing alongside fellow Ecuadorian Moises Caicedo.
Diong is the latest player readying himself to become part of the Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital revolution though as Fabrizio Romano reports that a deal to sign the teenager has been completed. It is said that he will join from AF Darou Salam in the summer when he turns 18.
Diong played for his country’s youth side at Under-17s level at the World Cup in Indonesia earlier this year, featuring in all four matches and starting twice. Senegal lost to eventual finalists France in the final. He stood out as an excellent ball-winning midfielder, recording the highest percentage of defensive duels won in the group stage of the tournament with over 85% according to Wyscout.
He has been compared to Patrick Vieira and Aurelien Tchouameni in Africa, which makes for good reading for Chelsea fans as they plan for the future. Currently the centre of the park is a competitive area under Mauricio Pochettino though, especially after fellow teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia made his long awaited debut for the club during a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
Lavia played alongside stand-in captain Conor Gallagher and Caicedo on the night. Lesley Ugochukwu, 19, has been involved this season too having arrived from Rennes over the summer with high hopes. Enzo Fernandez, 22, is out injured currently but has cemented himself as a regular in the team since moving from Benfica last January.
Chelsea are expected to be busy next month when attention turns to trying to improve the squad. Pochettino has made his demands for more senior profiles to be added quite clear over the course of his tenure, but a new-look recruitment team remains focused on sweeping up opportunities for the stars of tomorrow where they can.
Chelsea fielded their youngest ever Premier League team against Palace and have even more youngsters on the books too. Some of those have been sent out on loan to gain first team experience and often a taste of senior football for the first time in Europe. Diong may well enter this camp when he does arrive.
Luckily for him, BlueCo also own Ligue 1 outfit RC Strasbourg and have shown a willingness to use the connection to get young players into the action. Strasbourg are also, interestingly for Diong, managed by Vieira himself.
Diong already appears to have made himself familiar with a few of the Chelsea players, starting to follow them on Instagram including Kendry, Reece James and Malo Gusto. The Blues may well have a handful of new faces by the time he eventually arrives though with plans for January including reinforcements up front, in midfield and at centre-back.
One of those that could be leaving the club in 2024 is Gallagher. His contract has a little over 18 months left to run and the club are open to letting the midfielder leave with Tottenham amongst the interested parties, football.london understands. In the long run Diong may well be a replacement for Gallagher but right now the Blues are lacking in readily available depth and quality in midfield, two things Gallagher certainly brings to the table.
For now it waits to be seen just what will happen with the 23-year-old and Diong’s deal doesn’t immediately impact things. Replacing another established first team player with unproven youth is a risky approach though but it’s not one the current owners have avoided thus far.
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