Chelsea have reportedly taken the lead in pursuit of Kostas Manolas, with the AS Roma defender also a summer target for Arsenal
According to a report by Daily Mirror, Chelsea have stepped up their pursuit of Kostas Manolas and are ready to activate his £34 million release clause. Arsenal are also interested in signing the AS Roma defender in the summer transfer window, but are lagging behind their London rivals.
Manolas has blossomed into a formidable centre-back ever since he joined AS Roma from Olympiacos in the summer of 2014. Over the last four years, he has grown in stature considerably, with many regarding him to now be one of the best central defenders in Italy.
A mainstay at the back for the Giallorossi, Manolas made 40 appearances across all competitions this past season and enjoyed the crowning moment of his stint in the Italian capital when he hit the tie clinching goal in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals against Barcelona.
As far as the transfer market is concerned, he has been a hot property for a long time, with Chelsea in particular, holding a long-standing interest in him. But, the Blues are not alone in the player’s pursuit this time, with Arsenal also scouring the possibility of signing him.
Chelsea’s problems at the back were well exposed this past season as they had the tendency to leak goals. With Gary Cahill and David Luiz on the wrong side of 30 as well, the reportedly soon-to-be-appointed Maurizio Sarri will have to grapple with the problem of a somewhat ageing backline, with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger the only other central defensive options.
With no clarity on Kurt Zouma’s future and Ethan Ampadu being too young, another centre-back is well and truly the need of the hour, making Manolas a viable target for Chelsea. However, Arsenal are also believed to be in the race to sign the Greek defender, with their own defensive frailties well documented, having conceded an astonishing 73 goals.
Additionally, there’s an alarming need for reinforcements anyway, with Per Mertesacker retiring and Laurent Koscielny set to miss at least half of next season due to an achilles injury. With the inconsistent Shkodran Mustafi and the inexperienced duo of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers the only other options, Arsenal’s need for a centre-back is understandable.
However, Arsenal are lagging behind Chelsea in the race to sign Manolas, with the Blues ready to pay his £34 million release clause. The presence of a release clause comes in contrast to earlier reports which stated that Roma had turned down an approach from the West Londoners for the player.
In fact, the release clause takes decision on Manolas’ future out of the Giallorossi’s hands, as the Greek defender just has to agrees terms with Chelsea to complete the move now. As far as Arsenal are concerned, they are scouring other possibilities as well, with the signing of Caglar Soyuncu reportedly imminent, meaning they could afford to lose the Manolas race.