x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Chelsea plan Mario Goetze bid

Teenage midfielder targeted as part of plans to lower average player age Stamford Bridge, but Dortmund say 'don't waste your time'.

Mario Goetze, the 19-year-old, was a key player for Borussia Dortmund in their German Bundesliga-winning campaign last season.
Mario Goetze, the 19-year-old, was a key player for Borussia Dortmund in their German Bundesliga-winning campaign last season.

Chelsea have identified the 19-year-old Germany international Mario Goetze as the player to replace Frank Lampard in the ongoing overhaul of their first team.

The club have struggled to agree on a fee for the Borussia Dortmund playmaker, but they believe he will be more attainable at the end of the season.

Having promised to deliver the kind of fast, intricate passing game played by Barcelona to his new employer, Andre Villas-Boas has been granted permission to reduce Chelsea's average age and move out stalwarts of the club's three Premier League title successes, including Lampard and John Terry.

Goetze, who is also wanted by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, is seen as an individual ideally suited to the style of football that Villas-Boas is attempting to introduce.

In his first full season of senior football, Goetze was instrumental in bringing the Bundesliga title back to Dortmund after a nine-year interval. He made his debut for Germany a third of the way through that campaign and established himself as a key member of Joachim Loew's national team.

Arsenal attempted to sign Goetze last summer as a replacement for the departing Samir Nasri but terminated discussions after being quoted a fee of €35 million (Dh168m).

Amid interest from other leading clubs, Goetze himself was cautious about leaving Germany so early in his career, resolving instead to remain with Dortmund until this summer's European Championship and gain experience in the Champions League.

While Goetze's form has not been as impressive this season and he is currently sidelined with a thigh injury, Dortmund have been forthright in their intention to retain their principal asset.

"All I can say to all these clubs is they should save themselves the cost of a phone call, because they will be wasting their time and money contacting us," Hans-Joachim Watzke, the Dortmund chief executive, said. "Even if someone rides out of the desert and makes us an offer, it would make no difference.

"Mario is staying here."

Dortmund have, however, been working on an insurance policy by moving for Marco Reus, the Borussia Moenchengladbach attacker.

Despite continuing to score regularly when granted the opportunity to play, Lampard's relationship with Villas-Boas has become fraught. After coming off the bench to make and convert a match-winning penalty against Manchester City, Lampard said: "I haven't spoken to the manager, so I don't know why I'm not playing."

Villas-Boas subsequently said that he and Lampard, 33, "speak every day", though their past conversations have included criticism of the England international's style of play.

Jose Mourinho remains a friend and admirer of Lampard's, yet his Real Madrid squad are well stocked with midfielders and he is not planning a bid.

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