EPL: Chelsea pulls out of Manuel Ugarte race

Chelsea on Sunday night pulled out of the race to sign Uruguayan footballer Manuel Ugarte from Sporting CP, after they failed to reach an agreement with the club on the financial amount of the transfer.

Ugarte, whose contract contains a £52m release clause, received a lucrative offer from Chelsea and there was a growing expectation that the Uruguay international would become Mauricio Pochettino’s first signing. Talks were positive and the club appeared to be leading the race.

Chelsea pulls out of Manuel Ugarte race due to issues over transfer fee
Ugarte at a match for Sporting CP. Source: Getty

However, PSG has been pushing hard to sign the 22-year-old and the French champions refused to be beaten on wages.

The London club and PSG triggered the £52 million clause in Ugarte’s contract, but, in a dramatic twist, the French club increased their bid in an attempt to lure the Uruguayan to the Parc des Princes.

Chelsea responded by withdrawing from talks after deciding they were not willing to pay above the market rate for Manuel Ugarte.

The Uruguayan footballer is now expected to make the switch to the Ligue 1 champions on a long-term contract.

Chelsea pulls out of Manuel Ugarte race due to issues over transfer fee
Manuel Ugarte in action for Sporting against Benfica last month. Source: Getty

Chelsea, who have spent close to £600m since last summer, are rebuilding and are prioritizing reinforcements in midfield. They are expected to move for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moisés Caicedo. The Ecuador international, who is likely to cost at least £80m, is also wanted by Arsenal and Liverpool. The intention for Chelsea was to buy Caicedo and Ugarte.

Ugarte has been impressive for Sporting this season and stood out in their Europa League penalty shootout victory over Arsenal in February. The Portuguese side edged out the Gunners on penalties after a 3-3 draw on aggregate, with Ugarte shining in midfield that night.

But Chelsea will have to look at alternative options and are now tracking moves for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo and Southampton star Romeo Lavia.

Chelsea, who need to cut their bloated squad, have given permission to Mateo Kovacic to speak to Manchester City. Manchester United have opened talks over Mason Mount and Milan wants Ruben Loftus-Cheek. N’Golo Kanté is out of contract this month and is yet to sign an extension. Chelsea, whose midfield includes the £106.8m Enzo Fernández, sold Jorginho to Arsenal in January.

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