Leap of faith required for Chelsea to sign Benfica defender

20/1

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Chelsea to win the Premier League

Splurging north of £20m on any given player causes fewer and fewer eyelids to be batted these days, especially at a club as flush as Chelsea. Nevertheless, paying approximately £1m for every senior appearance in one of Europe’s top leagues might be considered excessive.

If new Stamford Bridge chief Antonio Conte is as serious as the papers say he is about the Blues’ next target, this is a very real prospect.

Versatile defender Victor Lindelof (heard of him?), broke through at Benifica this season, turning out 25 times from February onwards as Aguias pipped Sporting Lisbon to Portugal’s top prize.

Being savvy operators in the transfer market, the Portuguese champions were diligent enough to incorporate a £25m release clause into Lindlelof’s contract extension, signed last June, even though the Swedish defender had made a grand total of three appearances before the 2015/16 season.

The shrewdness of that contractual stipulation could well be about to pay dividends if Chelsea sanction its activation to acquire the centre-half, come right-back..

Benfica have categorically stated that is the only viable avenue to the 22-year-old’s sale, either to the Premier League club or any other suitors.

Lindelof’s brief but accomplished stint in Benfica’s first-team also ensured he earned international recognition in the form of his first full cap in March.

The former Vasteras SK player then went on to start all three of Sweden’s group games at the Euros, gaining his fourth , fifth and sixth caps, though he couldn’t prevent an early exit for the bottom-placed side.

If any one seems well qualified to pick the potential in a defender, it seems like the manager who oversaw one of Sweden’s Euro 2016 defeats as Italy’s head coach is the man.

Prior to his Azzurri stint, Conte delivered three consecutive Scudetto’s as Juventus boss, boasting the meanest defence in all three campaigns, where 24 was the highest amount of goals shipped in a single one of those seasons.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.