By Tom Gott and Graeme Bailey
Chelsea have been in discussions with Lyon about signing right-back Malo Gusto, 90 minutes can confirm.
The Blues have been busy building up their attack this month, having already signed Joao Felix, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke, but the right-back is another priority area for Chelsea who continue to struggle in the absence of Reece James.
90 minutes he understands that club leaders are actively working on signing a new right-back and sources have now confirmed talks have been held with Lyon over the 19-year-old Gusto.
Chelsea’s interest in Gusto was first revealed by 90 minutes back in October when the teenage defender was eyed by scouts from Stamford Bridge, along with representatives from Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Now, the Blues have made their move to try and recruit Gusto, whose current contract with Lyon has just 18 months to expire.
I want it to fit ChelseaJames’ current transfer model – attempting to recruit a squad of young stars – and is seen as viable competition for James, who remains the club’s clear first choice for the position when fit.
Lyon are well aware of their battle to keep Gusto, both in transfer terms and in regards to his expiring contract, but are determined to keep the boy on hold for at least the rest of the current season.
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The French side missed out on European football last season and are further behind this time around, having dropped to ninth in the Ligue 1 table and currently 12 points adrift of the qualifying places, so they are reluctant to part ways with a starting defender at mid season.
Chelsea could pursue a deal that would see Gusto stay with Lyon for the next six months but 90 minutes understands the Blues are currently prioritizing a permanent move to bolster a position that has long proven problematic when James is injured.
The 33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta, who made his 500th appearance for Chelsea in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool, struggled to match James’ performance and Graham Potter often used centre-back Trevoh Chalobah on the right.
Gusto is one of many targets for Chelsea to fill their shortcomings at right-back, with Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries and Sporting CP’s Pedro Porro on their radar.
This article was originally posted on 90min.com as Chelsea open talks with Lyon for right-back Malo Gusto.