Chelsea could find out this week if they have a realistic chance of signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona with Timo Werner on the brink of sealing his permanent return to RB Leipzig.
Werner’s move, together with the fact that Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech want to leave Stamford Bridge before the transfer window shuts, will heighten Chelsea’s need to sign another attacker.
Chelsea have been prioritising their interest in defender Wesley Fofana, who they remain in dialogue with Leicester City over, and midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who is yet to inform Barcelona that he wants to leave.
But discussions are set to take place this week over Chelsea’s interest in Aubameyang and whether or not the striker could be prised out of Barcelona.
It is understood that Barcelona are likely to only sell one of Aubameyang or Memphis Depay, who has also been linked to Chelsea and is a target for Juventus.
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez would ideally like to keep Aubameyang, who moved to Spain from Arsenal at the end of the January transfer window, but the club may be forced to take a more pragmatic approach having also signed Robert Lewandowski.
Chelsea have been in talks with Barcelona over a number of deals this summer, with the two clubs seemingly maintaining good relations despite competing with one another.
Left-back Marcos Alonso has agreed a deal to join Barca after Cesar Azpilicueta last week decided to stay at Chelsea and sign a new contract.
As well as waiting for news on Aubameyang, Chelsea are waiting to see whether or not De Jong will decide to leave the Nou Camp. If he does, there is confidence he will choose the west London club over Manchester United.
Werner’s departure will create significant space on the wage bill, as the German earned close to £270,000-a-week at Chelsea, who will also receive a fee of around £20 million, less than half the £47.5m the club paid for him two years ago.
But Werner’s book value with three years remaining on his contract was £28.5m, meaning Chelsea have accepted a relatively small loss that could potentially decrease further if various add-ons are paid.
Chelsea could also offload two more forward players, with Hudson-Odoi hoping to leave on loan before the window shuts and Ziyech still keen on a move away.
Borussia Dortmund and Southampton have shown an interest in Hudson-Odoi, while AC Milan have held talks over taking Ziyech on loan and it is likely that the Moroccan’s future will not be decided until the final weeks of the transfer window.
Another player who is leaving Chelsea is defender Malang Sarr, who started his medical to join Monaco on an initial loan on Monday. The Ligue 1 club have agreed to pay around £600,000 to take Sarr on loan, with an obligation, as long as certain conditions are met, to buy him for £10m, plus just over £3m in add-ons.
Chelsea signed Sarr on a free transfer two years ago, which means that any fees collected for the 23-year-old will go down as pure profit in the club’s accounts.
Other than holding talks over Fofana, De Jong and Aubameyang, Chelsea are still looking at potential right-back signings having already shown an interest in Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries and Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters.
Now aged 32, Azpilicueta admitted he is more comfortable on the right side of a back three than at right wing-back when explaining his decision to sign a new two-year contract at Chelsea, rather than holding out for a move to Barca.
“I am really happy,” said Azpilicueta. “Of course, it has been a crazy last few months. It felt right to carry on my journey here in a new project and I am really looking forward to the new season.
“It's true that it is a very rare situation. For a period I was a free agent and who knows what could have happened in that period. I was out of contract until March. I played the games [to trigger a one year renewal] but the club was still under sanctions. I decided to stay silent because I think there was already enough noise around me.
“My actions spoke for themselves. I stayed committed to the club, I played the games and that's even though I didn't know what was going to happen. The new owners arrived and we had very honest conversations. I decided that it was right to stay at home.
“The conversations were there [with Barcelona]. All surrounding the club. After the Club World Cup where I became the only player to ever win every trophy, [I felt] it was the time to go back [to Spain]. But then everything happened with this club. I wanted to stay committed to the club. I never did anything against my club. We had private conversations where I said everything.”