Chelsea are desperate to sign £35m-rated Algeria international

London club are considering an offer for Nice’s £35m-rated defender Youcef Atal and are hoping to make a move for him in winter should their transfer ban be lifted. Long-term right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has endured an error-strewn start to the campaign, committing defensive errors leading to goals with Man United and Sheffield United.

Consequently, his place is under threat with English coach reportedly considering handing 19-year-old Reece James a promotion, once he has come back from an ankle injury suffered in May. Another option for Blues could be to move for Algeria international, who enjoyed an eye-catching debut season in Ligue 1, scoring six goals in 29 league games.

Youcef, who played Paradou AC before signing for Nice in 2018, was part of the Algeria squad that won the African Cup of Nations for the first time since 1990. Although Blues are banned from signing any players for 12-months by FIFA, the club are hopeful the decision will be reduced to only one transfer window after they appealed to CAS.

London club are confident that CAS will overturn the decision and they have already entered into negotiations with various agents as they prepare to add to Frank’s squad. Chelsea have encountered problems in back-line during the opening weeks of the campaign, conceding nine goals in only four Premier League matches.

This is a second-worst record in the division behind Norwich City. Their task in signing Algerian defender could be made trickier by the French club’s recent takeover by INEOS, however, who are backed by the British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe.