Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea 2021-22Getty Images

Azpilicueta offered big Barcelona contract as Tuchel prepares list of Chelsea transfer targets

Chelsea face the prospect of replacing a huge proportion of their squad this summer, with Barcelona having placed a good contract offer on the table for Cesar Azpilicueta. 

Thomas Tuchel and the club's recruitment staff have been preparing extensive shortlists to try to hit the ground running when the Todd Boehly-led takeover is complete, removing sanctions on transfers for the west London outfit. 

They are initially targeting two central defenders but, after possible player sales, could broaden their search out to sign a central midfielder, wing-back and a new attacker.

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Who could join Chelsea and who needs to leave to make room?

The Blues want two central defenders to cover for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, who are set to depart for Real Madrid and Barcelona on respective free transfers. 

Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Paris Saint-Germain's Presnel Kimpembe, RB Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol and Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez have all been discussed as potential options. 

Chelsea could also sell a host of players with Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso attracting interest from Barcelona. 

Meanwhile, Juventus are considering a move for Jorginho, who is in the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge, which would free the Blues to add not only Crystal Palace loanee Conor Gallagher, but possibly also West Ham's Declan Rice or Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni. 

The Italian giants also want a left-back and Emerson Palmieri is on their shortlist. His exit could create space for Chelsea to sign a new wing-back, with Brighton's Marc Cucurella long admired by Tuchel and his staff. 

Although it is unclear which forward could yet be signed, the Blues have interest from Dortmund in Timo Werner over a summer move. 

Romelu Lukaku's situation at Chelsea is also currently unclear after a very difficult last few months that has seen him lose his place in the team due to poor form. He hopes to find a way back to prominence at Chelsea and would be difficult to sell due to his high wages following a club-record £100 million ($136m) move from Inter in 2021. 

Elsewhere, It's worth noting that Saul Niguez's £30m ($37m) option to buy is unlikely to be activated after he only claimed a fringe role on loan from Atletico Madrid. 

What are Barcelona willing to pay Azpilicueta to move?

Barca are willing to give Azpilicueta a pay rise and a two-year contract with an option for an extra year. The 32-year-old captain knows he can earn £11 million ($14m) a season before tax at Camp Nou. 

However, the Catalans are unable to pay any substantial transfer fee for the Spain international due to ongoing Financial Fair Play (FFP) restrictions placed on them by La Liga. 

They also target Marcos Alonso, but are also aiming to get him for as little as possible with both defenders having just over 12 months left on their current contracts. 

Barcelona are hoping to sell on a player in their squad for big money to help fund their summer transfer operation. 

It is also what held them back from seriously competing with Manchester City to sign Borrusia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who is reportedly on the verge of sealing a big-money switch to the Etihad Stadium. 

When will Chelsea be able to sign players?

With the purchase agreement in, the Blues just need to do their final due diligence on the Todd Boehly-led consortium. 

It is widely expected to be a formality. The sale of the club is subject to Premier League approval and is set to be facilitated by the UK Government in the next fortnight. 

Those close to the sale believe they are on course to complete it by the end of May, when they will then be issued a new operating licence that allows them to get back to running the club as normal.

The Boehly-led consortium are broadly aware of imminent issues to resolve, including expiring contracts for several players. They are keen to offer new deals to Mason Mount and Reece James, both of whom are on below-market-rate contracts.

They will also run a Liverpool-like data-led approach to transfer decisions, employing Danny Finkelstein as a non-executive director because of his renowned ability in statistical analysis. 

Asked whether Chelsea have lined up any transfer targets for when the Boehly takeover is completed, Tuchel said at his latest press conference: “At the moment not. A positive sign. It feels like it will come to an end and give us possibilities to act but at this very moment it is not like this.

"Maybe if I had (information on money for the summer) I would not tell you! But I do not have so I don’t need to lie.”

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