Chelsea are facing a fight to keep breakthrough prospect Xavier Simons amid interest from Brighton, Southampton, Norwich and Watford.
The versatile midfielder has just four months left on his current contract, which has sparked interest from clubs in the Premier League and from several Championship sides.
Ideally, Simons would want to remain at the Blues but the 19-year-old wants assurances that he can play senior football on loan next season and that his pathway gives him a chance of making the first team in west London.
Simons is widely regarded as one of the top talents coming through the older age group in the Cobham academy.
Thomas Tuchel has spent significant time coaching the midfielder this season in the first-team squad and gave him his debut in the 1-0 win over Brentford in the Carabao Cup in December.
He made the bench on a further occasion in the FA Cup and is one of the leaders in the Under-23 and Under-19s, often captaining the side at youth level.
The England youth international came to Chelsea after being signed from Brentford six years ago.
Having lost Tino Livramento to Southampton, Lewis Bate to Leeds and several other academy talents last summer, the club are battling not to see a repeat.
Alongside negotiations for Simons are talks for their outstanding attacking talent Harvey Vale who will see his contract reach the last 12 months in the summer.
Typically, the Blues have been open to selling academy players in the last year of their contract for lower fees as long as they opt to include sizeable sell-on clauses or even buyback clauses.
The deal is now done. Dylan Williams has joined Chelsea from Derby County. https://t.co/3QMTsh45Pg pic.twitter.com/ujfofIwbsv
They lost half a dozen players last summer and it has led to their Under-23s team edging towards relegation in Premier League 2.
This is despite a recruitment drive in January that saw the club sign Derby County’s Dylan Williams and Charlton Athletic’s Mason Burstow, having bid on a host of other players.
Indeed, Burstow went back on loan in League One having already broken through to their first team.
The Blues also recently signed 14-year-old Harry McGlinchey from Plymouth Argyle.
With Brexit regulations encouraging an arms race for top clubs poaching English talent from smaller sides, Chelsea also attempted to sign Zak Sturge from Brighton in January but he looks set to move to a club in Germany.
There has been some good news in the academy as talented defender Bashir Humphreys will sign a new two-and-a-half deal this week.
Furthermore, there has been loan interest in Chelsea’s academy striker Bryan Fiabema. Several Norwegian clubs, including Tromso, have discussed a short-term deal.
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