Mauricio Pochettino seals £65m first signing for Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino is closing on his very first signing as Chelsea manager, with Todd Boehly going the extra mile to get a huge deal for Manuel Ugarte over the line.

The Argentine’s appointment at Stamford Bridge is due to be officially confirmed after the interim spell of Frank Lampard ended on Sunday. Taking over from the sacked Graham Potter, Lampard was unable to revive the Blues’ fortunes during the run-in.

Indeed, Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle confirms Chelsea finish the season in a woeful 12th. And their tally of 44 points means they finish the campaign with their lowest-ever tally in the Premier League. The draw with Newcastle also means Lampard won just one of his 11 matches at the helm.

As a result, Pochettino will arrive with the massive task of resurrecting the flagging club.

But despite spending well over £500m since Boehly took control at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino inherits a squad with plenty of holes in it.

However, the Blues boss is seeking to immediately rectify one obvious weakness with a quick-fire deal to boost his midfield.

And with Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount likely to move on, Pochettino has moved quickly for Sporting star Ugarte.

The Uruguayan has enjoyed an excellent season with the Portuguese giants, shining in his defensive midfield role.

His performances have sparked plenty of interest, with PSG, Aston Villa and Liverpool among those keen.

And while PSG have a €60m offer on the table, it is Chelsea who are closing on a deal.

Chelsea closing on Manuel Ugarte transfer
Picking up the tale, trusted transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano has had his say.

“Understand Manuel Ugarte has been approved as target also by Chelsea coach Mauricio Pochettino #CFC,” he wrote.

“Chelsea are pushing in talks with club and player side, Jorge Mendes’ on it.

“PSG proposal, still valid on the table.

“No decision yet, but Chelsea will keep insisting.”

Sporting value Ugarte highly and a €60m (£52m) clause in his deal means they are unable to block his exit this summer.

Now reports in Portugal claim Chelsea are closing on an agreement for the 22-year-old. And it’s reported that the signing of Ugarte will be completed as early as next week.

Per reports, Boehly will pay an inflated £65m (€75m) to seal Ugarte’s signature – some £13m (€15m) over his exit clause.

While neither club are confirming the reports, Sporting boss Rubin Amorim has addressed speculation over his star.

“I cannot comment on this issue, because it is beyond me. Now, we know that it is difficult to keep players like Ugarte,” Amorim told O Jogo.

“Not just one club is interested, but several. Our objective is to sell, knowing that we missed the Champions League and it makes everything more difficult.

“I know what I want for the team and I have already conveyed that to the management.”

Ugarte to Chelsea transfer details emerge
Reports in South America claim Ugarte will sign a six-year deal at Stamford Bridge, tying him to the Blues until summer 2029.

The move will also see the player more than quadruple his current salary at Sporting, with a deal worth £150,000 on the table.

By contrast, his signing will open the door for Kovacic to exit Stamford Bridge after five seasons. A return to previous club Inter Milan looks an option.

Turning attention to Ugarte, Uruguayan transfer insider Franco Fernandez has provided an update on the move to Chelsea.

He tweeted: “Manuel Ugarte was on the bench [against Vizela], he did not see minutes waiting for his future for the transfer period. His arrival at Chelsea could be confirmed next week.”

The arrival of the South American is likely to set the wheels in motion for a busy summer at Chelsea.

While more outs than in are likely, Pochettino wants Boehly to back him with cash to shape the Blues side his way. And the capture of Ugarte will be the first of several key arrivals at Stamford Bridge this summer.

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