Chelsea now appear to be leading the race to sign Real Madrid star Raphael Varane. The France international will be allowed to leave the Bernabeu in the summer transfer window amid his desire to chance his arm elsewhere.
Chelsea look like a top team again.
Few gave the Blues a chance of finishing in the Premier League top four back in January, with the club struggling under Frank Lampard at the time.
However, since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment, they’ve been a team transformed.
Champions League football next season now looks likely after their 1-0 win over West Ham on Saturday night, with Timo Werner scoring the only goal of the game.
And things could be about to get even better for the west London giants, with reports suggesting they’re in pole position to sign Varane.
Mundo Deportivo has claimed the Blues are now ahead of Manchester United in the race to sign the 2018 World Cup winner in this summer’s transfer window.
And, should that deal happen, Varane would follow in the footsteps of Pedro, Drogba and Hazard by moving to Stamford Bridge instead of Old Trafford.
Let’s start with Drogba.
The Ivory Coast international shone for Marseille back in 2004 and, when Jose Mourinho took charge, the Portuguese wanted him instantly.
Sir Alex Ferguson later revealed that United were interested in Drogba too, however, they missed out because Chelsea were simply too quick.
In his autobiography, “Leading,” the Scot said: “We went to check him out [at Marseille].
“But the club wanted £25million and Chelsea moved in for the kill before we had made up our minds.”
United ended up signing Alan Smith and Wayne Rooney instead, with the latter becoming an Old Trafford legend during his time there.
With Hazard, back in 2012, the Red Devils were hellbent on snapping him up.
Ferguson saw similarities with a young Cristiano Ronaldo and thought the Belgian would be a huge hit after watching him take Ligue 1 by storm with Lille.
However, he was enraged when Hazard decided to move to Chelsea instead – announcing he’d be “joining the Champions League winners.”
Ferguson later hit out eat that deal, saying: “There is a borderline in terms of what you would think is a good signing for United.
“I see some values on players, like Hazard for instance. To me it was a lot of money. He’s a good player, but £34 million?
“What we’re finding anyway, the climate for buying these top players – not just the transfer fees, the salaries, agents’ fees – is just getting ridiculous now.
“In the Hazard deal, Chelsea paid the agent £6 million. The [Samir] Nasri situation was the same.”
He then continued: “It’s all about what you think is value for a player. I am not envious of those deals at all. We placed a value on Hazard which was well below what they were talking about.
“So if it doesn’t work, well we’re not worried about that. We think we’ve got good value in [Shinji] Kagawa.”
And then, in the summer transfer window of 2015, United eyed Pedro.
Louis van Gaal was keen on the winger, believing he’d be a great asset to the club having watched him become a serial winner at Barcelona.
Yet they missed out, with Chelsea moving in swiftly to seal a deal.
Van Gaal later denied interest, saying: “I cannot answer these questions [on Pedro], you know that. I have said it before, that what we are doing is a process.
“In that process we make decisions and I think when we wanted Pedro, it was not any problem.
“That is because there was a clause in his contract, so it was the easiest transfer.”
But the Spaniard later revealed United WERE keen – and he joined Chelsea because they wanted him more.
“I was very flattered by the interest from some of England’s biggest clubs – United, City and Chelsea,” he said. “Chelsea’s offer convinced me most.”
Now, Varane could be next.
And, if Chelsea beat United to his signing, it would be quite a statement of intent.