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Rumors in Italy of a Kessié - Bakayoko swap

Might pull Milan out of their financial pickle

Franck Kessie of Ac Milan during the Serie A football... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

With the transfer window now open and newspapers to sell, editors are busy conjuring up transfer scenarios.

In Italy, Football Italia reports that both La Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb have hit on the same story — a deal between Chelsea and AC Milan that’s a sort-of swap of Tiémoué Bakayoko for Franck Kessié, with whom Chelsea were heavily linked two seasons ago as well.

Here’s how they think it would work.

Bakayoko is on loan to Milan, who have a €35m option to buy at the end of the season. He’s been doing well for them lately, by all reports.

Kessié is also on loan, but in his case the buy option is less of an option and more of an obligation. In a deal made before UEFA found Milan in violation of Financial Fair Play, coming down hard on them, Kessié joined on a two-year loan (for an €8m fee) in 2017 with an obligation to buy for €24m in 2019 — i.e. the end of this season.

With Milan continuing to navigate financial dire straits, the speculation is that they would sell Kessié to Chelsea for €45-50m, and use the profits to turn around and keep Bakayoko, possibly getting a discount on the €35m option to make it a cashflow neutral transaction.

Since player swaps are rare and exotic beasts, such a deal seems unlikely. But Chelsea might find a use for Kessié, a physical central midfielder who can both defend and attack. In Sarri’s system he could play on either side of Jorginho, deputizing for N’Golo Kanté and possibly even taking a place away from Mateo Kovačić and Loftus-Cheek, since he has a few goals in his right foot (three so far this season, five last year for Atalanta).

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