Chelsea are edging closer to signing Fluminense’s highly-rated 20-year-old Brazilian forward, Richarlison de Andrade.

According to the Daily Mail and Gianluca Di Marzio, Antonio Conte has taken a keen interest in the U20 Brazil international and the Blues are currently leading the race for the 20-year-old, who also has Serie A sides Inter Milan and Sampdoria chasing his signature.

Richarlison, who has three-and-a-half years left on his current contract, has been in stunning form for the Guerreiros over the course of the past two seasons with the club. In 38 appearances so far, he has scored 10 and assisted 4 goals across all competitions.

The prodigious youngster was initially supposed to sign for Dutch giants AFC Ajax and had even agreed a provisional deal with them. This deal would see him sign a 5-year-contract with them for a fee of £12 million, but Chelsea’s newfound interest seems to have thrown a spanner in the works.

This season, he has netted 7 times and provided 3 assists in 16 games so far. He is the club’s second highest goal scorer this season, only behind center forward Henrique Dourado who has 12 goals and is currently leading the assists chart for Abel Braga’s men.

The Nova Venecia-born forward was picked up by America Mineiro in 2014 for their youth setup from Real Noroeste. He would go on to make his first team debut for the Coelhos in July 2015. For his impressive performances, he was handed a contract extension, keeping him at the club till 2018.

In 24 appearances across all competitions that season, he would score 9 goals and provide 4 assists, helping them finish fourth in the Serie B. His impressive performance would lead to Fluminense signing him on a 5-year-deal in December that year.

He would also get called up to Brazil’s U20 side in 2016 and the attacker has since featured 10 times since then, including the U20 south American Championship this year, in which he was a regular fixture on the left wing. It proved to be a disappointing campaign, as they managed only a 5th placed finish.

Richarlison, who features mainly on the wings for Fluzão, initially began his career as a center forward at America Mineiro. However, he has been forced to play out wide due to the presence of Henrique Dourado. As a result, he has become proficient at playing anywhere in attack.

That is something that could be put to good use at Chelsea, who are looking to add more depth to their attacking ranks as they prepare for a very long and arduous season ahead. For £12 million, the Blues would easily be able to afford him and pay him better wages than his other suitors.

However, the Blues already have Michy Batshuayi and recently signed Alvaro Morata to replace Diego Costa. On the wings, they have Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian and are likely to retain Charly Musonda, having given him the number 17 shirt before taking him on their pre-season tour.

So a more likely scenario is that the Blues may just purchase Richarlison and add to their ever-growing contingent of promising youth players by sending him out on loan to a club in Europe.

Any possible move would mostly come without the promise of first team minutes and only time will tell whether Antonio Conte actually gives the talented youngster a chance to shine at Stamford Bridge.

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