Mauricio Pochettino has given the green light to Chelsea’s pursuit of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Manuel Ugarte. The former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain manager is set to be confirmed as Chelsea’s new permanent manager this week after he signed a contract prior to Sunday’s final game of the Premier League season. Chelsea are understood to have indicated they are willing to pay the 22-year-old’s £52million release clause in full and Pochettino is said to have sanctioned the move for the combative midfielder, according to Fabrizio Romano. PSG are reported to have tabled a rival offer but Chelsea are in pole position with the player said to be keen on a move to the Premier League. Sporting, meanwhile, are keen to retain the Uruguay international but appear to be fighting a losing battle. Speaking about the player’s future last week, manager Ruben Anorim said: ‘I cannot comment on this issue, because it is beyond me. Now, we know that it is difficult to keep players like Ugarte.’ He added: ‘Not just one club is interested, but several. Our objective is to sell, knowing that we missed the Champions League and it makes everything more difficult. I know what I want for the team and I have already conveyed that to the management.’
Pochettino has been tasked with a major rebuilding job and will begin work immediately on trimming a bloated squad that the likes of Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Frank Lampard found unmanageable. While the priority remains trimming the first team squad, Chelsea will also spend again in the summer to ensure Pochettino is equipped with a group of players capable of sustaining a challenge for Champions League qualification. A partner for Enzo Fernandez in central midfield has been earmarked as a necessity and to that end Chelsea have already made progress with a deal for Ugarte.