4pm Chelsea news LIVE: £5m Max Bird transfer ‘very close’; Lampard ‘told board to sell Kepa’; Rice, Mertens keen to join – The Sun

CHELSEA fans are eagerly waiting to find out exactly when the Premier League may return.

But they've had a boost on the transfer front with the door open for a move for West Ham's Declan Rice – and Dries Mertens said to be very keen on a switch to Stamford Bridge.

Follow all the latest news and transfer updates from the Bridge below…

  • FLY LIKE A BIRD

    Chelsea will pay around £4.8million for Derby midfielder Max Bird, according to reports.

    The 19-year-old played under Blues boss Frank Lampard at the Rams last season and and will link up with his old boss again during the next transfer window, according to TodoFichajes.

    The two clubs are said to be “very close” to agreeing a deal and Bird is expected to link up with his new teammates in the summer.

  • NEUTRAL VENUES TO STOP CROWDS

    Part of the Premier League's 'Project Restart' discussions will centre around the use of approved venues, which may mean teams playing on neutral grounds and immediately throws up questions over competition integrity.

    Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says being unable to play all games home and away as planned would be a “further imperfection” on top of the already accepted imperfection of playing behind closed doors.

    The UK's national football policing lead Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts told the Press Association that playing all the remaining matches at their original venues would “present challenges” to the emergency services already stretched by the Covid-19 outbreak.

    There would be particular pressure points from a health and public order perspective on a match where the league title or another season-defining issue was on the line, because of the potential for mass gatherings of supporters. DCC Roberts said that will be in the league's thinking.

    He said: “In the first instance, football has to satisfy the Government that they can hold the matches and that it's safe for everyone to do it in terms of players, officials, coaching staff, broadcasters.

    “So you get that first stage of 'how do you make it safe to play football at the location?' And it may be that actually that mandates them being played at specific neutral venues where it can be controlled.”

  • START UP THE ENGINES

    Chelsea have told their star players who have flown abroad to get back to London for Sunday.

    The likes of Willian have headed back to Brazil, but they are being told to get a shift on back to the UK.

    The Premier League could re-start on June 8, and Frank Lampard wants his squad back together in the first week of May.

    If players need to self isolate, then they need to get back to Britain soon.

  • TEST MATCH SPECIAL

    Premier League stars will be given TWO tests a week to see if they are clear of the coronavirus, reports ALAN NIXON.

    And players from Liverpool to Watford are also going to have their temperatures checked every day in a thorough medical exercise.

    The doctors at the elite clubs have hatched the safety plan to be prepared for the green light to return to training and eventually play.

    It will mean around 18 tests per player over the scheduled nine-week period of training and then playing.

    And that number will work out at around 360 tests a squad plus a few more for management and other staff involved.

    So the Premier League are planning on finding – and funding – over 10,000 tests between the start of training and the end of the playing season.

    The hope is for the best way possible of detecting any cases to make sure there are no victims of the virus in the top flight.

    It will take similar numbers in the other three divisions, adding to the cost faced by owners at financially-troubled clubs.

  • RIGHT RICE

    Best mates Declan Rice and Mason Mount could reunite at Stamford Bridge next season.

    Rice was released by the Blues aged 15, leaving both of them heartbroken.

    But the 21-year-old didn't let the setback defeat him, bouncing back in West Ham's academy and breaking through in 2017.

    Rice has nine England caps to his name and was able to rekindle his on-pitch partnership with Mount, also 21, when the duo were both selected by Gareth Southgate at the back end of 2019.

    Here is how the Blues could look with Rice in their midfield.

  • KEPA NOT A KEEPER

    Frank Lampard has told the Chelsea board to sell Kepa, says former Chelsea star Craig Burley.

    He told ESPN FC: “My understanding is that Lampard told the board he wanted Kepa out, for whatever reason.

    “His performances, attitude, clash of personalities – whatever.

    “That's okay going to the board and saying that, but when you've paid the money they have for a goalkeeper, and it was a lot of money, they'll be quite happy to sell him.

    “They're only going to sell and go down that road if they get a huge chunk of that money back.

    “It could be a potential disaster for them.

    “There's a battle of wills there, before the shutdown, between manager and board.

    “We saw Willy Caballero play some games, we saw Kepa coming back in, so it'll be interesting seeing how this one plays out.

    “What we do know is that Chelsea are unlikely to recoup what they paid for the Spanish keeper.”

  • 'HAES-TY DECISION

    Napoli have beaten Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester to the signing of defender Gabriel Magalhaes, according to reports.

    Tuttomercato claim the Serie A club have leaped ahead of Everton, who were close to landing him recently.

    Napoli have agreed terms with the Lille centre-back, 22, beating the English clubs to his signature.

    The Italian side expect to lose Kalidou Koulibaly this summer to one of Europe’s top clubs.

  • ONE MOR ON THE WAY

    Former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata has announced his wife Alice Campello is pregnant for a second time.

    Alice gave birth to twins in 2018 and is expecting once again.

  • JUNE 8 RETURN

    Gary Neville has revealed that the second week of June is being looked at for the Premier League return.

    But he says “no-one wants to put their name against this one.”

  • CASH FLOW ISSUES

    Here is how much Premier League clubs will lose if the season is canned.

    It doesn't look too pretty for the Blues' bottom line.

  • ROMA RUMOURS

    Chelsea ace Pedro is reportedly wanted by Roma on a free transfer with the Spaniard's contract running out in two months.

    The Spain ace's future has long been in doubt, with boss Frank Lampard often opting to deploy an exciting crop of youngsters on the flank this season.

    Pedro has made more than 200 appearances for the Blues since since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Barcelona five years ago, helping the Blues win the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup.

    An Achilles tendon rupture has disrupted the 32-year-old's season and he had only started eight Prem matches before the 2019-20 campaign was KO'd due to the coronavirus crisis.

    The emergence of Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ajax star Hakim Ziyech joining next season means Pedro has been even more marginalised at Stamford Bridge.

  • WELCOME TO THE PARTEY

    Arsenal have been joined by European giants Bayern Munich and Paris-Saint Germain in the race to land Thomas Partey.

    Spanish outlet Eldesmarque claim that the Gunners are the team that have shown the most interest for the Atletico Madrid star but Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan also remain options.

    The outlet adds that PSG are considering activating the midfielder’s £44million release clause while Atleti are yet to give up on the Ghanaian signing a renewal.

    Bundesliga champions Bayern have also listed Partey as one of the names to replace veteran Javi Martinez, 31, whose contract expires next year.

    It was previously reported that Arsenal’s hopes of landing the holding midfielder this summer rest on their bid to qualify for the Champions League.

  • BREAKING

    The Premier League is planning to return on June 8, with clubs sent a proposed new timetable to finish the season despite the despite coronavirus pandemic.

    As revealed by SunSport, the top-flight is aiming to return in just six weeks.

    But now league chiefs have sent a games schedule around to all 20 clubs ahead of a crunch meeting on Friday.

  • RIVAL REVIVAL

    Dele Alli has taunted Arsenal by claiming Tottenham see Chelsea as bigger rivals thanks to their Premier League clashes in recent seasons.

    The Spurs star, 24, has revealed his team-mates all see the Blues as bigger rivals than the Gunners – but knows it's different for fans.

    The England midfielder told Copa90: “I think if you ask the fans they will give you a different answer.

    “But as players – the way things have been going with the league and the games – the rivalry with Chelsea is bigger than the one with Arsenal, because of what they have done to us in recent years.

    “For fans it’s different, because the North London derby is massive, but as players I think it’s Chelsea.”

  • FRENCH PRES: CANCEL PREM

    Following the decision to cancel French football until September, Emmanuel Macron is reportedly pushing for the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy to follow suit.

    Earlier this week, Ligue 1 and 2 joined the Dutch Eredivisie in cancelling the 2019/20 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Football bosses in the country were planning a return to training in May before completing the season the following month, much like the agenda still in place across the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A.

    However French president Macron is said by Le Parisien to be pushing for a Europe-wide cancellation of sport to help deal with the pandemic.

    Sport minister Roxana Maracineanu reportedly contacted his counterparts in Italy and Germany after Tuesday’s announcement and is also set for talks with Spanish ministers.

  • ON THIS DAY

    It's 15 years – yes FIFTEEN years – since that day in Bolton when Chelsea clinched their first Premier League title.

    Do you even need to guess who did the damage that day?

    Watch and enjoy.

  • GET YOUR PHIL

    Chelsea will reportedly have to fork out £87million to sign Philippe Coutinho this summer.

    The 27-year-old looks destined to return to the Premier League after failing to live up to expectations at Barcelona.

    Mundo Deportivo claim Frank Lampard's side will have to dig deep to lure him away from the Nou Camp.

    The Brazilian has attracted a wide range of interest after being shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich this season.

    He scored nine goals and made eight assists for the German club, but they have decided against signing him permanently.

    Coutinho has struggled to make his mark in Spain following his £145m move from Liverpool in 2018.

  • FAB NEWS

    Cesc Fabregas posted an emotional tribute to his great-grandmother after the “super heroine” won her fight with coronavirus at the age of 95.

    The former Arsenal and Chelsea star, 32, announced great-gran Flora had contracted the killer bug along with 70 per cent of her nursing home near Barcelona earlier this month.

    But Fabregas has now revealed the incredible news that she has won her battle against coronavirus on Twitter.

    Fabregas tweeted: “She has overcome coronavirus at 95 years of age. Yesterday the test came out negative!

    “My great-grandmother is a super heroine but none of this would have been possible had it not been for the help of the nurses and doctors.

    “[They] are giving their lives at each moment so that we can all be better and live a little bit better during these difficult times.”

  • BIG SPENDERS

    Newcastle are set to be one of just FIVE Premier League clubs to spend big this summer.

    And plenty of cash will be available to­ bolster the squad.

    Due to the lockdown, most top-flight clubs will have little if any cash spare — even if the season is completed.

    Agents have been made aware that Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and United will be in a position to bring in star signings, although transfers fees are expected to tumble.

    And though the Toon will have money to invest, they are not expected to repeat last summer’s crazy £40m capture of Joelinton.

    Everton could become the sixth club to spend but will only be in a position to buy big again if Financial Fair Play rules are relaxed.

  • DRIES LIGHTNING

    Dries Mertens is keen on a move to Chelsea, reports the Daily Mail.

    The out-of-contract Belgian has a number of offers on the table but a switch to London is reportedly viewed as one of the most appealing.

    32-year-old Mertens is currently Napoli's all-time record scorer and other reports have suggested he has already held talks with Frank Lampard.

    With Chelsea looking for firepower up front, Mertens is an appealing option as he can play in every position across Frank Lampard's front three.

  • GOOD MORNING CHELSEA FANS

    It was a fairly quiet day yesterday but SunSport exclusively revealed Newcastle are set to join the Blues and Man Utd as one of just five big-spending Premier League clubs if their takeover is completed.

    In transfers, high profile Chelsea fans also urged the West Londoners to take the Philippe Coutinho gamble to replace Eden Hazard.

    The Blues are ready to snatch Kays Ruiz-Atil, 17, from Paris Saint-Germain in a summer transfer with the midfielder's contract running out in 2021.

    Goalkeeping target Andre Onana also told Ajax he wants to quit after 'five great years' as Chelsea and Barcelona circle.

    While the West Londoners face a battle with Arsenal in the fight for Lille centre-back Gabriel with Mikel Arteta desperate to sign the £30m rated defender.

    It also emerged the Blues are willing to pay £70m in their bid to reunite Mason Mount and Declan Rice as Frank Lampard plots an overhaul of his midfield.

    Chelsea will also go head-to-head with Man Utd for Federico Chiesa but Fiorentina have offered the striker a huge new deal to try and keep him.

    Finally, it emerged footballers are worried about infecting their families with coronavirus if they are rushed back in to action.

    And a Uefa league supremo slammed Fifa’s medical chief for insisting the season should be cancelled.

  • STEADY ON

    Football's top stars fear a premature resumption could see them infect their families with Covid-19, according to the world players’ union.

    Prem bosses are still pushing to return to action in June, although Italian clubs have been told to consider following France’s lead, in cancelling the season.

    It comes as the head of the organisation representing Europe’s major leagues, including the Premier League, suggested it would be better to sacrifice this term to ensure next season can be run in full.

    But most critical was FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann’s claim that players across Europe are SCARED of the consequences of playing too soon.

  • EXCLUSIVE

    Newcastle are set to be one of just FIVE Premier League clubs to spend big this summer.

    Due to the lockdown, most top-flight clubs will have little if any cash spare — even if the season is completed.

    But agents have been made aware that Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and United will be in a position to bring in star signings, although transfers fees are expected to tumble.

  • Belgian D’Hooghe warned an early return could lead to a second spike of coronavirus deaths. He stressed: “It’s a matter of life or death. Football is not ready for a competitive return.”

    But ex-Uefa chief executive Olsson — now president of the Association of European Leagues — added: “He must understand his words are perceived not as the opinion of a private person, but as a representative of Fifa.

    “In Europe most want to finish the season if it’s possible.

    “There are leagues where they are about to end the season and there are opportunities where clubs can enter competitions according to sporting principle not by a decision taken in someone’s office.”

  • EUR WRONG

    European leagues boss Lars-Christer Olsson slammed Michel D’Hooghe for insisting the season must be cancelled.

    Fifa medical chief D’Hooghe said football should not return before September — even behind closed doors.

    But Swede Olsson told him to shut up, while Uefa’s own medical professor believes it is “definitely possible” to restart the season.

    Olsson said: “The head of the Fifa medical committee needs to keep his advice to himself.

    “He has no idea what’s happening in each country — he does not have the complete data…

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