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Benfica’s Julian Weigl is Thomas Tuchel’s first alternative to Declan Rice — report

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Borussia Dortmund v SC Paderborn - DFB Cup Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

While Chelsea’s first-choice target to reinforce the midfield this summer appears to be Declan Rice, reports also noted of the Blues’ interest in Benfica’s Julian Weigl and AS Monaco’s Aurelian Tchouameni.

Portuguese outlet O Jogo sheds some more light on those rumors, and they claim that Chelsea are unable to meet West Ham’s €80m asking price for Rice. Should the Hammers not lower their valuation, the Blues will turn their attention to Weigl or Tchouameni. And Tuchel holds the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder in higher regards, having already asked PSG’s board to sign the 25-year-old back when he was their coach.

Chelsea have reportedly already held talks with Weigl’s representatives and his club, though discussions remain at a preliminary stage. His current contract runs through 2024, and while Benfica do want to hold on to him, they could decide to sell him should Chelsea offer them enough money to cushion the financial impact of the pandemic on their books.

Part of Tuchel’s interest in Weigl comes from their time working together at Dortmund, during the coach’s entire spell with the German club from 2015 to 2017. And since his arrival at Benfica in winter 2020, he has been one of their main players, with 63 matches played for the Encarnados over the last year and a half.

But one defensive midfielder who definitely looks to be out of the reckoning for Chelsea is Lucas Gourna-Douath. The Blues were linked with the Saint-Etienne youngster a few months back, but it appears that he has reached an agreement to sign a new 2-year contract with the Ligue 1 side.