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Barcelona confident of beating Bayern Munich to free transfer signing of Chelsea's Christensen

18:41 GMT+3 08/03/2022
ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN CHELSEA
The Blues look set to lose their homegrown defender on a free transfer after a breakdown in contract renewal talks

Barcelona are aggressively pushing to win the race to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen on a free transfer ahead of Bayern Munich.

The Catalan side, coached by Xavi, have offered Christensen a deal until 2027, with terms which are superior to those tabled by Bayern and Chelsea.

The German champions were scheduled for talks with the 25-year-old's representative this week because they see him as an ideal replacement for Niklas Sule - after he signed a pre-contract to join Borussia Dortmund in the summer - but it is unclear whether they will still go ahead.

What happened between Chelsea and Christensen?

The Blues had wanted to renew their Denmark international's contract, while the defender, who was signed at 16 from Brondby for £500,000, also wanted to stay.

However, talks broke down over agent's fees and signing-on bonuses, even after a £140,000-a-week contract was verbally agreed.

On one side, Chelsea sources described the players's camp as moving the goalposts. Meanwhile, on the other side, they believe that a lack of agreement on agent's fees meant that no such deal was agreed.

It left talks in a deep freeze with the Blues furious, and Thomas Tuchel publicly criticising the player and gradually using him less.

The desire to re-sign Christensen only came after Frank Lampard was sacked and the Dane improved his form under Tuchel.

Before that, Chelsea had only offered him a one-year contract extension without a pay rise, until they saw the defender play a pivotal role in the run to winning the Champions League last season.

Even though Christensen's final destination remains to be confirmed, the least likely option now seems to be a contract renewal in west London.

What does it mean for Chelsea more broadly?

The Stamford Bridge club are now in a vulnerable position, with Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta's contracts also expiring.

The uncertainty created by Roman Abramovich putting the club up for sale has created a difficult atmosphere in which to renew contracts or sign new players.

Although the Blues can operate within the revenue they receive, it remains unclear to new signings or current stars what direction the club will be moving in or who will be leading it on the board.

Chelsea have made signing a central defender their number one priority this summer but have since seen target Wesley Fofana renew his contract with Leicester City until 2027.

Furthermore, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Barcelona's Ronald Araujo are targets but may now need convincing about where Chelsea will be after Abramovich.

They are also targeting a host of youngsters to bolster their academy after a difficult season battling relegation in Premier League 2.

One target that has recently emerged is Blackburn Rovers centre-back Ashley Phillips who is playing at Under-23s level despite only being 16 years old.

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