By Matt Farr
Premier League leaders Chelsea are believed to be lining up a move for Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow, according to a reliable journalist.
Chelsea are prepared to let current deputy Asmir Begovic leave the club this month, after Bournemouth came knocking on the door with a £10million approach last week.
However, his departure to the south coast hinges on whether Chelsea can find a suitable replacement, and Guardian deputy sports news editor Ed Aarons claims that Karl Darlow has joined Antonio Conte’s shortlist.
He revealed on his personal Twitter account on Thursday night that the Blues had turned to the Newcastle stopper, who is rated in the £8million bracket.
— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) January 26, 2017
Darlow has been a key figure under Rafa Benitez at St. James’ Park this season, establishing himself as the No.1 goalkeeper in the absence of Rob Elliot.
With the Republic of Ireland international injured for much of the campaign, Darlow has made 20 appearances in all competitions, including their last 18 league matches.
During that time, he has kept seven clean sheets and conceded just 14 goals.
However, even with a third goalkeeper in Matz Sels also at Benitez’s disposal, the Newcastle boss is unlikely to want to part ways with one of his most-trusted senior men.
Football Insider verdict
The problem Chelsea face is that they may struggle to land a first-choice stopper to use as backup to Thibaut Courtois. The Belgium international is always going to be the preferred choice at Chelsea, and as showcased with Asmir Begovic this season, first-team opportunities won’t came at all often for the deputy. Darlow has been in excellent form for Newcastle this season, and should consider his current value to the Magpies before thinking about a move to Chelsea. He could become a part of a very successful team under Antonio Conte, but he is not likely to see much first-team action; so it may be more beneficial for him to stay at St. James’ Park. That said, Chelsea are yet to submit an offer for his services, and it is not yet clear how Rafa Benitez will view the reported interest.
In other Newcastle transfer news, the club have reportedly joined four other Premier League clubs in the race for this versatile Ligue 1 forward.