Chelsea launch bid to poach ‘next Bukayo Saka’ from Arsenal – despite transfer ban

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Chelsea are keen on a move for Arsenal wonderkid Khayon Edwards, despite the transfer restrictions hanging over the west London club.

The Blues are operating under a restricted licence, put in place after owner Roman Abramovich was added to the UK government’s list of sanctioned individuals. Under the terms, only transfer payments agreed before March 10 can be ratified, but the Blues’ new owners are expected to invest in the squad as soon as possible.

Several candidates remain in the hunt as the sale draws closer, with each of the interested parties submitting their final bids this month. Once the sale is completed, and if transfer business is back on the table right away, youngster Edwards could move across town after performances which have seen him compared to Gunners star Bukayo Saka.

According to Goal, Chelsea have made contact with Edwards’ representatives with a view to a potential summer transfer. While football.london reports that Arsenal remain confident of tying the hotshot down to a professional deal, he has yet to commit his future to the club.

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Blues aren’t the only interested party, though. RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin and Feyenoord are also reportedly taking a look, with the latter of the three clubs currently counting on-loan Arsenal academy graduate Reiss Nelson among their number.

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The Sun notes that he has been described as the “next Saka”, and if he can have anything close to the impact of Arsenal’s current number seven then they’ll be desperate to fend off Chelsea’s interest. Based on his goal record this term, there’s every chance he could do just that.

In 16 games for Arsenal’s under-18 side this season, Edwards has scored 16 goals. The tally includes a hat-trick against Norwich, and one in a 4-0 win over Chelsea’s kids in January.

His exploits at under-18 level have led to action in Premier League 2, where he netted against West Ham United, and he has also featured for the Gunners’ under-21 side in the Papa John’s Trophy. Arsenal made it all the way to the quarter-finals in that competition, beating a Chelsea side along the way.

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While the 18-year-old has yet to feature in a first team squad for the Gunners under Mikel Arteta, the manager’s use of academy graduates has at least shown there is a path to Premier League football for those impressing at age group level. And that doesn’t just refer to the likes of now-established midfielders Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

Eddie Nketiah came off the bench against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, while fellow striker Folarin Balogun has also featured in the league this term. Teenager Charlie Patino has also picked up cup minutes, while the bench against Brighton included youngsters Miguel Azeez, Omari Hutchinson, Mazeed Ogungbo and Zak Swanson.

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