Chelsea have reportedly pulled out of the race to sign midfielder Manuel Ugarte from Sporting Lisbon. The 22-year-old was said to be the Blues’ top target ahead of the summer transfer window as new boss Mauricio Pochettino looks to assemble a squad that can compete for silverware.
On Sunday evening, The Mirror reported that Chelsea had moved ahead of Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Ugarte. And part of the Blues’ deal would have seen them buy a minority stake in the Portuguse giants.
Sporting are said to have told Ugarte that they will only sanction a move to Chelsea this summer after the west London giants offered him an eight-year contract. But before the clock struck midnight, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano announced on Twitter that Chelsea were in fact pulling out of the race to sign the Uruguay international.
Ugarte was said to be open to a move to Stamford Bridge as he looks to embark on the next chapter of his career. But PSG have offered Sporting more money to secure his signature and the Blues are unwilling to pay well above what they consider to be the player’s market value.
Ugarte moved to Portugal at the start of 2021 after leaving CA Fenix in his homeland and signing for Famalicao. He then made the move to Sporting just seven months after touching down in Europe.
The player has gone on to feature 85 times for Sporting and helped his team win the Portuguese League Cup last season. He featured 47 times for his club during the 2022/23 campaign as Sporting finished fourth in the league table after progressing to the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Chelsea have made a whole host of signings since American Todd Boehly bought the club from Roman Abramovich just over a year ago. But the team have struggled to live up to expectations, with Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter both being given their marching orders over the last nine months.
Ex-Blues boss and legendary midfielder Frank Lampard was tasked with steering the ship for the last two months of the season but failed to get the team moving in the right direction as Chelsea ultimately finished a lowly 12th in the Premier League table.
Former Tottenham and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino was appointed as the club’s new boss last week. And the Argentine faces a huge task to turn the west Londoners’ fortunes around when the new season gets underway in August.