9.30pm Chelsea news LIVE: Icardi transfer BOOST, Coutinho ‘back on’, Kante may miss rest of season, Kepa exit – The Sun

CHELSEA are back in training as the return of the Premier League draws closer.

But N'Golo Kante is not among the squad due to coronavirus fears, and the club will not put any pressure on the Frenchman to return.

Follow all the latest updates from Stamford Bridge below…

  • MORE FROM FRANK…

    The boss has talked to his players about any fears they may have over returning to training.

    He said: “One of things for me as a manager that I've learnt in this two month period is that communication is so key.

    “When we went into this isolation we all felt like we went into the crazy bubble that we were not used to. Me sending messages to players and asking how they felt was so important.

    “I didn't want to bombard them so they were bored of me but I did want them to know that I'm here.

    “As the talk of restarting came it was an important conversation that we had collectively.”

  • BEING FRANK

    Frank Lampard has lifted the lid on what it has been like at Chelsea training this week.

    He said: “It's been okay, it's been great to see the players.

    “I've seen them on many Zoom calls and WhatsApp chats so it's been nice to keep to working.

    “It [training] is very restricted and we have to abide by the restrictions because they're there for a reason because of the time that we are in.”

  • PARTEY TIME

    Ex- Chelsea and Ghana icon Michael Essien admitted he would have loved to have played with Arsenal target Thomas Partey.

    Partey is also Ghanaian and has been linked with the Gunners for months.

    And Essien told South African reporter Carol Tshabalala: “Thomas is such a good player. I’d have loved to play with him.

    “He is a young and talented player making waves in Europe.

    “He is one player I’d liked to play alongside but it will never happen.”

  • RED ALERT

    Liverpool should battle Chelsea and United for Jadon Sancho's signature, claimed Emile Heskey.

    He told GentingBet: “I’d choose Sancho for Liverpool, out of the three.

    “Mbappe is a phenomenal player who is another player who keeps on rising and is only going to get better and better.

    “He’s focused more to keep the consistency going, at that age it’s just phenomenal. It’s difficult, because for Liverpool you’d choose a player who was more on the wing than central.

    “But again, Haaland’s goals are a key factor. I’m going to be patriotic and say that Sancho would be great, being an England player and an entertaining player as well.”

  • GOT THE IC

    Chelsea have been handed a boost by the news that Inter Milan have reportedly rejected Paris Saint-Germain's bid for striker Mauro Icardi.

    Icardi's loan side PSG offered Inter £54million for the Argentine but Antonio Conte's side turned them down.

    The offer consisted of £44.7m up front plus a further £8.9m in add-ons as the French club look to make the 27-year-old's deal permanent.

    But according to Sky Sport Italia and Gazzetta Dello Sport, Inter will not budge from their demands in the region of £62m.

  • GIFT OF THE GAB

    Cesc Fabregas has named the two midfielders he admired most while playing in the Premier League.

    The ex-Chelsea star told Rio Ferdinand: “Since I was little I had this thing about Steven Gerrard.

    Before he added: “In terms of the way I play and the way I see football, it is Paul Scholes.

    “What a player. He loved the one-two, he was right, he was left, he always demanded the ball.”

  • HAV A LOOK

    Chelsea target Kai Havertz scored twice today in Bayer Leverkusen's win over Monchengladbach.

    After he opened the scoring in the seventh minute, he scored from the spot in the second half.

    The 20-year-old has been directly involved in 17 goals for his club in 2020 with 10 goals and seven assists.

    Not bad, eh?

  • FAB NEWS

    Jose Mourinho convinced Cesc Fabregas to join Chelsea by promising him he would win the title.

    The ex-Arsenal star told Rio Ferdinand's FIVE YouTube channel: “Jose has one system but he works on that system very well.

    “He's got the specific players for the right system.

    “One day, when I first met him he told me 'I need two players, I'm going to sign Diego Costa. If you come to me…'

    “He drew the team on paper and said 'this team is winning the title'.”

  • CARELESS WHISPER

    Jose Mourinho has revealed what he whispered in Pep Guardiola's ear during the Champions League semi-final in 2010.

    Mourinho told Gazzetta dello Sport: “When Sergio Busquets fell almost knocked out, I was diagonally between our bench, his [Guardiola's] and the place where Motta was sent off.

    “Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Barcelona bench celebrating it as if Guardiola had already won calling Ibrahimovic to give instructions.”

    He walked up behind Guardiola – while the Spaniard was addressing Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and whispered: “Don't throw the party, the game is not over.”

    It was wise words from the former Chelsea boss as his side held on until Gerard Pique's goal in the 84th minute.

  • FOLLOW THE LEADER

    Chelsea legend Joe Cole has heralded his former skipper John Terry as the Premier League's best ever captain.

    Former Blue Cole starred alongside Stamford Bridge hero Terry for seven years between 2003 and 2010 and has lauded his old team-mate's leadership credentials.

    Speaking to BT Sport, where he now works as a pundit, Cole said: “John Terry was the best captain. His attention to detail on and off the pitch, he led from the front and demanded standards.

    “He was just a perfect captain to have at a club.

    “I would say he is the best Premier League captain ever, I think there's an argument for a few others, but JT is certainly up there.”

  • BLUEPSY DAISY

    Chelsea stars Kepa and Marcos Alonso are due to be warned over social distancing for standing too close to fans while posing for photos.

  • FEELING BLUE

    Willian has hinted he will be leaving Chelsea at the end of his current contract, as the Blues “are not going to change” their offer.

    The Brazilian signed for the West Londoners in 2013 and is believed to be very settled with his family in England’s capital.

    He said: “It’s a difficult situation, Chelsea offered me two years and they are not going to change.

    “I don’t know if it will be possible to stay. My goal is to continue working and focus on the remainder of the season, so that Chelsea can continue winning games.

    “I have a clear head and I’m focused for the rest of the season that we have left. Let’s see what happens.”

  • BLUES BACK AT IT

    Chelsea have posted a video of their player back in training ahead of the Premier League's potential return.

  • TO BE FRANK

    Frank Lampard says football must only return when it is safe after N'Golo Kante refused to return to training over safety fears.

    He told BBC Football Focus: “Safety has to come first. Once we get over Phase One, see what Phase Two looks like and beyond that, then we can think about getting the games back, albeit behind-closed-doors.

    “All of us here we want to do it, it's our job, we are very fortunate to have this job, to play football, and we want to finish it.

    “But we have seen much more important things in the country and the world than football happen and I think that has been a bit of a reset for all of us.

    'What remains is we want to play football and what remains of this season, but as you say the most important thing is when it is safe and healthy for players and staff.

    “Fans won't be coming but will it change things for society with the police and the NHS? All these things need to come together and hopefully we can get our game back.”

  • TOP DROG

    Didier Drogba revealed scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final was the best moment of his career.

  • CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS

    Three Premier League clubs are in talks to have cardboard cout-out of real fans in their stadiums when football returns.

    The 'Stay at Home – Be at the Game' project lets supported upload a picture of themselves to used on a lifesize cardboard cut out and a trio of Prem clubs are considering it.

    At £20 each, some of the money will be donated to help the NHS in their battle against Covid-19.

    Top US sporting bodies like the NBA, Serie A and MLS have also shown an interest as international sport looks set to return behind closed doors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • COUTINHO TO CHELSEA 'ON'

    Philippe Coutinho's transfer to Chelsea is reportedly “on” after Bayern Munich officially passed up their opportunity to sign the Barcelona playmaker.

    Coutinho has spent this season on loan at Bayern but they have decided not to make the move permanent.

    Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: “The option has expired and we have not exercised it. We will see if the player can still have a role to play with us or not.”

    And the Evening Standard say that paves the way for a move to the Premier League, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester all in contact with Barcelona.

    According to Spanish sports paper Mundo Deportivo, the former Liverpool star fancies a move to Stamford Bridge.

  • GOOD MORNING, CHELSEA FANS

    Frank Lampard's men face a Champions League headache – and not just because they trail Bayern Munich 3-0 from the first leg amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Chelsea's players would be quarantined for 14 days upon returning from Germany under new government rules on UK arrivals, starting on June 8. 

    Bayern Munich have also emerged as major rivals to Chelsea, Manchester United and Co in the hunt for Jadon Sancho.

    A huge summer move seems less likely now, given the financial impact of Covid-19, but nonetheless Borussia Dortmund's England attacker has a growing list of suitors.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea and United target Miralem Pjanic has reportedly ruled out moving to London and is desperate to join Barcelona.

    The Bosnia midfielder, 30, has also been linked with PSG as Juventus chief Maurizio Sarri is prepared to let him to.

    Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was reportedly willing to let Jorginho head to Turin in a bid to land Pjanic.

    But Brazil star Willian, wanted by Arsenal and Spurs has reiterated he is keen to stay at Chelsea for the rest of the season, even if that means playing into July and August.

  • JOSE: I WAS A SILLY BERGA

    Ex-Chelsea and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho admits he was a “d***head” to his Inter Milan Treble-winning side of 2010.

    The Spurs chief also revealed he was violent with his players and told them “they had won the Scudetto of s**t” following a defeat to Bergamo.

    Mourinho lifted the Serie A title, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League in 2009-10.

    The Portuguese, 57, said: “I’m never fake, I’m original. It’s me and that’s it. I was also a d***head but that was me.”

    Mourinho lost his cool with his Inter squad following the 3-1 defeat to Bergamo in January 2009.

    He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “I was very violent with the players — I told them they had won the Scudetto of s**t.

    “It was only afterwards I understood I had hurt them and I apologised.”

  • YOU MUST BECOME HEAVYWEIGHT HAVERTZ

    Dimitar Berbatov has urged Kai Havertz to snub the Premier League for now — and bulk up.

    The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, 20, has been linked with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and United and enhanced his growing reputation with two goals in Monday’s 4-1 win over Werder Bremen.

    But ex-United striker Berbatov, who left Leverkusen to join Spurs in 2006, believes Havertz is not yet tough enough to leave his native Germany.

    Berbatov, 39, said: “I’d like to see Havertz in the Premier League but it is a bit too early for him.

    “He will need a bit more muscle. We all know how defenders can squash you and smash you into pieces.

    “He should stay at Leverkusen and develop even more, get that experience which will help him for when the time comes to go somewhere else.”

  • BAYERN DECLINE TO PAY COUTINHO FEE

    Bayern Munich will spark more talk of Philippe Coutinho returning to the Premier League by declining to pay a £110million option to buy the Barcelona playmaker.

    Chelsea, Manchester United and even old club Liverpool have been linked with the Brazil star, 27, although financial restraints due to the coronavirus pandemic make a summer transfer less likely.

    Bayern chairman  Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Der Spiegel: “The option expired and “we haven't activated it.

    “Now we're going to draw up squad planning internally (for next season) and we'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not.”

    Coutinho started just 15 of Bayern's 25 games, coming on as substitute eight times, before the Covid-19 lockdown halted football action. 

    But with Barca insisting he could still have a role back at the Nou Camp, he hopes to impress now the Bundesliga has restarted.

  • FUTURE IS UP IN THE PIERRE

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future seems more up in the air than his air.

    Just as the Arsenal skipper was mocked on social media for his untidy locks on returning to training, so he was being linked with PSG, in addition to longer-term suitors Barcelona.

    The Gabon striker is entering the final year of his contract, although Premier League interest seems to have died down, Manchester United having initially been rated as strong contenders.

  • BAY IN WAIT FOR SANCHO

    Bayern Munich have emerged as major rivals to Jadon Sancho's host of Premier League suitors, like United and Chelsea.

    Reports in Germany suggest the Bundesliga champions regard the Borussia Dortmund attacker as an alternative to Manchester City's Germany wideman Leroy Sane.

    England star Sancho has bagged 19 goals and 17 assists for German giants Dortmund in all competitions this season.

  • PREM 'CONFIDENT' OF RETURN

    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters insists they are “as confident as we can be” about restarting in June.

    He said the Prem would be “flexible” about a restart date, having previously targeted June 12 after the coronavirus pandemic halted action on March 13.

    Masters told the BBC: “There is some momentum. We've taken the first step.

    “It's great for everybody, including the fans, to see our players back on the training ground.”

    He said the Prem would learn from the Bundesliga's return last weekend, which went smoothly despite being behind closed doors.

    British football could even be played out to empty stands until next year.

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