Chelsea have had an offer of £80 million ($102m) for midfielder Moises Caicedo rejected by Brighton, sources have told ESPN.
The west London club have previously had two offers rejected for the 21-year-old and are holding out for their valuation of over £100m.
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New Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino is keen to bolster his midfield options after Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek left the club earlier in the transfer window.
Caicedo’s performances since arriving at the south coast club from Independiente del Valle in 2021 have made him one of the most in-demand midfielders in the country. Arsenal also had an offer of more than £60m rejected by Brighton in January.
After a brief standoff with the club over the failed transfer, the Ecuador international subsequently signed a new contract with Brighton in March that runs until 2027.
Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi said last week that he is planning to start the season with Caicedo, but acknowledged that the midfielder could leave the club if Chelsea were to pay owner Tony Bloom’s asking price.
De Zerbi also denied that Caicedo has an agreement with Brighton to leave the club this summer.
“I didn’t give my word for nothing,” he said. “We didn’t speak about the next transfer market window and for me, he is a player like the others.
“OK, we are Brighton and I can understand we have to sell any player at the end of the season like [Alexis] Mac Allister [who joined Liverpool in a deal that could be worth £55m].
“But at the moment, I have not received news that Caicedo can leave tomorrow or in the next week. I start the next season with Caicedo in my head in the first XI, for sure.”
Brighton will play European football for the first time in their history next season after qualifying for the Europa League with a sixth-place finish in the 2022-23 Premier League campaign.