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  • By Paul Lagan

Blues are Russian to nab Golovin

The bizarre circumstances that has seen soon-to-be-elbowed head coach Antonio Conte, in theory, if not in practice, prepare pre-season training, while the club courts Maurizio Sarri from Napoli will end this week.

Sarri is expected at Cobham by Friday, having penned a three-year deal worth £5million a season.

Chelsea’s hierarchy is putting the finishing touches on a £4.5million compensation package to Napoli, which will see them release Sarri from his contact, which runs up to 2020. This despite Carlo Ancelotti already installed as their manager.

Chelsea will pay off Conte and his backroom staff this week – £9million should suffice, clearing the path for the former Italian banker to set up residency at the Cobham training ground.

Some players who were out on loan and not involved in the World Cup in Russia returned to pre-season training yesterday, with neither Conte nor Sarri in sight. Current players were belatedly informed that pre-season, which was due to start for them on July 2, has been changed to July 9. Cesc Fabregas, out on punditry duty for TV in Russia, left the TV studio last week saying he was returning to the club to start training.

But up he popped, back in the BBC studio in Moscow at the weekend commentating on Spain’s demise. Victor Moses while plying his trade for Nigeria revealed that he did not know when pre-season started or who was going to tell him.

Chelsea has decided that Kenedy is no longer in their plans for this season and want £20million for the Brazilian left winger. Newcastle United, who had him on loan last season, want him on loan this term, but the Blues are holding out for a permanent deal.

The Blues will be hoping to land a few players before the season starts with Russian midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, 22, on their list to add to centre-back Daniele Rugani, who is expected to pen a three-year deal and a £35million asking price from Juventus. England face Colombia tonight in a World Cup knockout match which, if they win, puts them in to the quarter-final.

Chelsea skipper, Gary Cahill who will struggle for first team action at Stamford Bridge this season, is expected to return to the subs’ bench. He had a worthy outing against Belgium last Thursday. The 32-year-old said of the 1-0 defeat:

“It was a reminder to us of the standard of teams we are coming up against from now on.

“No disrespect to Panama (who England beat 6-1), but Belgium was a different test. The way they moved positions and kept the ball – it was a good benchmark for what is to come.

“We made eight changes – nine if you include the substitution at half-time. Things were always going to be a little bit disjointed.

“The first half was good, the second was a bit stretched, but nevertheless we just move on to the knockout phase. Now this is the business end. “It doesn’t derail us. It won’t affect our momentum. It was disappointing to lose the game, but we have lost nothing.”

The outcome in Kaliningrad means Cahill will face up to ex-team-mates Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado. Cahill said: “This is an opportunity to go through to the next round.

“We are going into it with a lot of positivity. We have earned the right to play in this game.

“Colombia are a very good side, but it’s all ifs and buts isn’t it? It’s going to be difficult, but they will all be.

“It’s like any competition: The longer you stay in it, the less likely you’re going to dodge any big teams.

“This is the business end. The next match is the important one. We look no further than that.”

Further down the ranks, Chelsea have loaned out striker Lewis Baker, 23, to Championship side Leeds United on a season-long loan. The 23-year-old midfielder made his first team debut for the Blues in an FA Cup tie at Derby County in 2014. He was part of the club’s FA Youth Cup in 2012. He was on Vitesse Arnhem in 2016 and at Middlesbrough last season. Chelsea lost the youth team coach Jody Morris to Derby County in the summer where he becomes assistant manager to Frank Lampard. In his place, the Blues have appointed Andy Myers to replace him.

Left back Myers made more than 100 times for the Blues and has spent the past 10 years an academy coach, leading the under-15 age group before moving up to assist with the Under-21s and Under-19s.

He was part of the backroom team that helped secure consecutive triumphs in the UEFA Youth League and a league title for the Under-21s in 2013/14.

He was coaching at Vitesse Arnhem in 2016, before returning to be Development Squad boss Joe Edwards’s No 2.

Academy guru Neil Bath said of Myers: “Andy has been coaching in a number of roles at the academy for the past decade so he knows our programme extremely well and, as an ex-player, has a strong connection to the club.

“It’s a well-deserved move into a lead coaching role and I know Andy is looking forward to continuing his work with the development of our young players.”

While the senior men’s side has yet to land any new players, Emma Hayes’s women side continue their squad regeneration. The latest recruit is Finnish striker Adelina Engman from Swedish outfit Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC for the signing of Finland international forward Adelina Engman. The transfer is due to be completed at the end of July.

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