BY PAUL LAGAN
Chelsea new co-owner Todd Boehly is racking up the air miles in his pursuit of landing at least a couple of new star players before the Premier League season opens away to Everton next month.
The replacements for the now departed Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen are almost in place.
Boehly has been in Italy and Portugal and will eventually head back to his US homeland.
Chelsea are preparing for the new season with lots of commercial activities, training and playing some matches.
Former Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake, who found his pathway to regular first team action at the Bridge hindered by more senior players, is now considered seasoned enough to be welcomed back to SW6.
The Netherlands international went off to AFC Bournemouth and then was picked up by Pep Guardiola to be a squad defender for Premier League champions Manchester City. But a deal in the region of £35million will bring the likable centre-back to the Bridge on a four-year deal.
Hot on his heels is one of Chelsea’s more long-in-the-tooth signings.
Kalidou Koulibaly should be a Blue by the middle of next week and, at £30m, he can be seen as a bit of a bargain. Chelsea were willing to pay close to £80m for the Napoli central defender five years ago .
Every season since he has figured in Chelsea’s transfer plans, but it never materialised. It seemed he just didn’t fancy it at the time.
But now, at the age of 31, he’s willing to join fellow Senegalese Edouard Mendy at Chelsea.
At 6ft 1ins tall and with Ake at 5ft 11ins tall, it’s unlikely that both will play at the same time in crucial league or Champions League matches.
Chelsea will be hoping that Thiago Silva, at 37, and also 5ft 11ins tall, can stay fit, as he will be needed to look after a defence that looks increasingly likely to lose its club skipper Cesar Azpilicueta .
The Spain right- back is desperate to have one last big move. Barcelona are keen to land him, and he wants to join the Catalans.
A fee of £7m is peanuts by modern standards, but such is the good will between the player and the club, albeit the previous management regime, that Boehly will not stand in his way. Azpilicueta was signed from Marseille for £8m in 2012 and has played more than 300 times for the Blues.
Reece James is set to be the first choice right-back this season under Thomas Tuchel and with Trevoh Chalobah a more than ready back-up, the loss of Azpilicueta won’t be so great on the pitch.
The main talking point is the arrival of Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.
So many statistics are whirling around about how profitable Sterling has been for City in terms of goals scored and assists, that it begs the question why is he leaving the champions? The truth is, of course, business. It is costing Chelsea the thick end of £51m to sign west London lad Sterling, who cost City £44m when they took him from Liverpool in 2015.
That’s terrific business by City, who have already bought his replacement Erling Haaland, 21 for £51m. With them also selling striker Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal for £45m, City have certainly been attempting to balance their books.
Current Women’s Super League champions Chelsea have a tricky opening couple of fixtures to contend with if they are to successfully defend their crown.
They start at home against West Ham United. The Blues will face them either on September 10 or September 11 – TV scheduling will decide which day.
Then it’s Liverpool at Prenton Park before the crunch match in September, a home game against arch rivals Manchester City.