Exclusive Ben Jacobs column: Mbappe Saudi transfer’s dangerous precedent, Chelsea close to agreement with Arsenal target & more

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Chelsea lead Arsenal in Mohammed Kudus race

Chelsea have registered their interest in Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus and are even close to agreeing personal terms. But no offer has been placed yet.

Kudus is one of a number of attacking midfield options, including Celta Vigo’s Gabri Veiga. He is appreciated because he can play centrally or out wide and scored 18 goals and got seven assists in all competitions last season.

Kudus is under contract at Ajax until 2025 and is keen to leave. He has already rejected a one-year extension back in April.

The Arsenal interest is genuine as well, although they won’t move prior to outgoings. They made contact a couple of weeks ago. Brighton are also in the race. Kudus is going to cost about £40m.

Mohammed Kudus in action for Ajax

I think if Chelsea sell Conor Gallagher they will move quickly for an attack-minded midfielder. West Ham have seen a bid rejected for Gallagher for around £40m. He has got plenty of minutes in pre-season under Mauricio Pochettino, but Chelsea will sell if the price is right.

More Saudi deals to watch…

Al-Nassr continue talks with Sadio Mane and are prepared to pay Bayern €40m. Bayern want to sell, and now it will all come down to the player. Talks are progressing.

Mane had indicated at the beginning of the summer he wanted to stay at Bayern, but his perspective has changed now that Thomas Tuchel has made it clear he is not in his plans. Al-Nassr want a final answer by the end of the month with the hope of getting a Mane deal finalised ahead of the new Saudi Pro League season.

Keep an eye on Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, too. His Al-Nassr move collapsed following concerns during his Madrid medical over his knee and hip. Al-Nassr still offered Ziyech a €15m annual salary, but they restructured the package so that the base wage was 40% less. This meant Ziyech would have to make his full salary in appearances and bonuses, something he was not prepared to do.

The Ziyech camp argue the medical issues were red herrings and that actually Al-Nassr pulled out because they landed Marcelo Brozovic from Inter. Al-Ahli may yet revive the deal.

And Al-Hilal continue to really push for Aleksandar Mitrovic. It may even be verbally agreed by the time you read this. Mitrovic really wants the move and has made that crystal clear to Fulham, who have been irritated by the approaches to date. Mitrovic is desperate to play with fellow Serbian Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. It’s a deal that is eventually expected to get done and not one that will be influenced by the world-record bid for Mbappe.

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More Stories Ben Jacobs Gabri Veiga Hakim Ziyech Harry Kane Kylian Mbappe Mohammed Kudus Rasmus Hojlund Sadio Mane