There is a bout of tug of war going on between Chelsea and Leicester over N’Golo Kante. The Londoners have offered £29m for the Frenchman, while the Foxes have offered him a bumper new contract.
In Jamie Vardy, the defending Premier League champions already have one star player who has shunned a supposedly bigger club this summer and if Kante follows his lead, Chelsea will be prepared.
According to The Sun, Bologna teenager Amadou Diawara – a target for the Blues – is trying to force through a switch to Stamford Bridge and has gone AWOL from the Serie A outfit.
The 18-year-old was a fixture in midfield for the Rossoblu last season, logging the second highest amount of league minutes in their squad.
By January, The Sun say, his performances had caught Chelsea’s eye and sent his price tag rocketing up to £20m, as Manchester United, West Ham, Juventus and Roma also watched him closely.
What the growing gaggle of suitors would have seen, was a tough-tackling, positionally savvy Kante-lite.
Diawara made more tackles and more interceptions than any of his teammates in his 34 appearances, making him easy to compare to the diminutive defensive rock at Leicester.
The Guinean’s totals were actually quite a long way short of the Frenchman’s top-flight numbers, but then so were most peoples’. His 75 tackles were 100 fewer than Kante, while Diawara had 91 interceptions compared to 156 for the Foxes man.
However, at seven years the Premier League champion’s junior, there is plenty of time for the Bologna boy to reach Kante’s level.
Where the two anchormen differ is in their temperament. They made a similar number of fouls over the course of the campaign – 17 for Kante, 18 for Diawara – but the vast difference in their card tallies indicate the youngster is far more hot headed.
Nine yellow cards and two reds were flashed at the teenager during the campaign, while Kante received just three cautions. So taming Diawara’s aggression, as well as his skills, would be key for Chelsea should he become a Blue.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.