Chelsea are reportedly interested in and will look to target Nice right-back Youcef Atal, who is also being courted by La Liga side Valencia.

According to Italian publication Calciomercato, Youcef Atal is back on Chelsea’s radar. The Blues will look to target the Nice defender in January or the coming summer, if their transfer ban is not prematurely lifted. But, the West Londoners will have to compete with Valencia as per the report.

Youcef Atal was one of the names linked with Chelsea previously. But, the Blues’ transfer ban prevented them from pursuing the 23-year-old actively in the recently concluded transfer window.

You-safe option? (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
You-safe option? (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

While the transfer ban is for two windows, which would entail Chelsea can only sign players from the coming summer transfer window, the Blues are hopeful of their ban being prematurely lifted. There is a notion that Chelsea will point to the relaxation and judgement passed in relation to a similar breach by defending Premier League champions Manchester City to appeal for the transfer ban to be lifted.

23-year-old Youcef Atal arrived in France in 2018, with Nice signing him from Belgian club KV Kortrijk. In his maiden season in France, Atal was a regular for Nice, with 29 appearances. In addition, Atal chipped in with 6 goals an assist in Ligue 1, aiding Nice’s seventh-placed finish.

Capable of playing in all positions on the right, possessing bagful of pace and a mean tackle on him, Atal could be the solution for Chelsea’s right side dilemma. Cesar Azpilicueta has struggled to be relevant on the right while going forward and has not exactly been in the best of forms defensively either ever since his stint at centre-back under Antonio Conte.

Reece James is touted to be given a chance under Frank Lampard. But, Chelsea would love to add a relatively more experienced option than the academy ace.

Valencia though, will provide competition, as per the report, despite the club being staffed well in the position. The La Liga side have three options at right-back – Daniel Wass, Cristiano Piccini and Thierry Correia. Even if Atal can fill in up ahead on the right, Valencia have two young gems in the form of Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres vying for a starting spot there.

There is a turmoil behind the scenes brewing at Valencia, which could also deter Atal from favouring a move to the La Liga club. Valencia have given Marcelino his marching orders after reports of a spat emerged in the last few weeks between the manager and chairman Peter Lim.

Chelsea are in a good position to get Atal, if they want to. But, the transfer and timing of it will largely depend on the result of Chelsea’s potential appeal to have their transfer ban shelved.

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