Monaco are interested in re-signing Tiemoue Bakayoko from Chelsea as they could give the midfielder an escape from Stamford Bridge after a wretched season in England.
The France international is the third most expensive player in Chelsea’s history after joining the 2017 champions for £40 million (nearly Dh208m) last summer but has not begun a Premier League game since his red card after a hapless half hour at Watford more than two months ago.
Now Bakayoko, who helped Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the Uefa Champions League semi-finals last season, is wanted back at the Stade Louis II, though an approach could test Chelsea’s resolve to keep a player intended to be a cornerstone of their team for years.
Bakayoko, 23, was bought as a replacement for Nemanja Matic, who is six years his senior, and his arrival was in keeping with Chelsea’s policy of targeting young players with resale value.
But, despite manager Antonio Conte’s preference for playing two defensive midfielders, he has lost his place to the less athletic Cesc Fabregas and has dropped out of contention for a spot in France’s World Cup squad.
Bakayoko has been heavily criticised by sections of the Chelsea supporters, with an audible abusive chant after his dismissal at Vicarage Road, and while he said in October that he wanted to stay at the club for “a long time”, that determination could be tested by his difficulties and his old employers’ advances.
Monaco have endured a disappointing season and missed Bakayoko’s ability to shield the back four when they conceded 16 goals in six Champions League games.
But a club who should be competing in the Champions League again next season ought to have funds to spend.
Thomas Lemar, who attracted a £90m bid from Arsenal last summer, is likelier to leave in the close season, so Monaco could get a windfall. Bakayoko may be targeted as a replacement for his former midfield partner Fabinho, who was expected to move last summer and could go this year.
Monaco hope that manager Leonardo Jardim will commit to the club. The Portuguese has been touted as a possible successor to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but is the manager who drew the best form of Bakayoko’s career and his presence would increase their chances of bringing him back.
Chelsea’s position could depend on their managerial situation, with Conte’s reign seeming to come to a close and a question which players a successor will want.
They also have decisions to make in a department where, even though they have spent £90m on central midfielders in the last two transfer windows, another overhaul may be required.
Danny Drinkwater will reportedly consider his options in the summer after only being given five league starts since his £35m move from Leicester City while Fabregas, whose contract expires in 2019, is another with an uncertain future.
Meanwhile, Monaco are considering a move for another Premier League player who is struggling to get first-team football.
Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno is a target as they look to belatedly replace Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy.
The 22-year-old Brazilian Jorge has taken over from Mendy but Moreno is wanted. The Spaniard began the season as Liverpool’s first choice but lost his place after he was injured in December and the Scotland international Andrew Robertson excelled in his absence.
Now, with Robertson having seemingly cemented his place in the side. Moreno could be available. Liverpool were willing to sell the former Sevilla player last season before he impressed manager Jurgen Klopp with his performances in pre-season.
He attracted interest from Inter Milan and AC Milan and Napoli bid £11m for him, when Liverpool wanted £15m.