Chelsea have held talks with Lyon over the signing of right-back Malo Gusto, 90min can confirm.
The Blues have been busy bolstering in attack this month, having already signed Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke, but right-back is another priority area for Chelsea as they continue to struggle with the absence of Reece James.
90min understands that club officials are actively working on signing a new right-back and sources have now confirmed that talks have been held with Lyon over 19-year-old Gusto.
Chelsea’s interest in Gusto was first revealed by 90min back in October when the teenage defender was watched by scouts from Stamford Bridge, alongside representatives from Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Now, the Blues have made their move to try and recruit Gusto, whose current Lyon contract has just 18 months left to run.
Gusto fits into Chelsea’s current transfer model – attempting to recruit a team of young stars – and is seen as viable competition to James, who remains the club’s clear first-choice for the position when fit.
Lyon are well aware of their battle to keep Gusto, both in terms of a transfer and concerning his expiring contract, but they are determined to hold on to the teenager for at least the remainder of the current season.
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The French side missed out on European football last season and are further behind this time around, having fallen to ninth in the Ligue 1 standings and currently sitting 12 points adrift of the qualification spots, and so they are reluctant to part ways with a starting defender midway through the season.
Chelsea could pursue a deal which would see Gusto remain with Lyon for the next six months but 90min understands that the Blues are currently prioritising a permanent move to bolster a position which has long proven problematic when James is injured.
33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta, who made his 500th appearance for Chelsea in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, has struggled to match James’ output and Graham Potter has often resorted to using centre-back Trevoh Chalobah out on the right instead.
Gusto is one of several targets for Chelsea to address their shortcomings at right-back, with Inter’s Denzel Dumfries and Sporting CP’s Pedro Porro also on their radar.