Chelsea are ready to fight Spanish giants Barcelona for Bayer Leverkusen wonder-kid Atakan Akkaynak, according to The Daily Express.
Fresh from a transfer window where Chelsea missed out on a plethora of midfield targets, notably Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley, the defending Premier League champions seem to be setting their sights on a different option when the window reopens.
Despite the summer signings of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater, Chelsea still lack significant depth in central-midfield and that could be exposed over the course of the season- especially after the Champions League commences this week.
Fortunately there is enough depth to ensure the Blues don’t have to splash out for a guaranteed started and The Express claims Akkaynak, who holds dual-nationality with Germany and Turkey, is a top-target for Antonio Conte’s side.
It’s extremely likely that the 18-year-old will be on the move in the next year as his current deal expires in 2019 and Bayer Leverkusen don’t have the financial power to keep him at the club, which has alerted a host of Europe’s top sides.
The biggest concern for any young player at Chelsea is whether they’d be given a fair chance of becoming a regular in the side, as even talents like Kurt Zouma and Rubens Loftus-Cheek have struggled to establish themselves in the first-team.
Chelsea do hand opportunities to those good enough though and the last time the Blues landed a highly-coveted and highly-rated young player was the addition of a certain Eden Hazard, although the Belgian was older than Akkaynak at the time.
Akkaynak is also better in a more attacking role too, which means he provides a different option to N’Golo Kante, Bakayoko and Drinkwater, and could be considered as the ideal replacement for an ageing Cesc Fabregas.
The teenager’s versatility means he can also play defensively if needed and Conte is the sort of manager who could craft him into a top-class player- with the Italian boss known for his like of versatile players that have attacking prowess.
Barcelona would likely be the biggest competition for Chelsea in the market, and it may be difficult for Akkaynak to turn down the chance to succeed Andres Iniesta in the Spanish side’s midfield, but the Catalan giants face a wealth of issues.