Chelsea are set to make an approach for a long-term target of Manchester United – Red Bull Leipzig forward Benjamin Sesko.
Old Trafford officials had designated a new centre-forward as a priority in the summer, with a range of potential options discussed for the position. Sesko was believed to be one option.
However, he club eventually settled on Rasmus Hojlund – signed from Atalanta in a deal worth a potential £72 million – but Sesko was reportedly admired by United scouts.
His availability was a possible point of contention in comparison to Hojlund.
Sesko joined Leipzig’s sister club – Red Bull Salzburg – in 2019 aged sixteen on a three-year deal. He was subsequently loaned to Salzburg’s reserve team for two seasons, scoring twenty-two goals in forty-four appearances in the Austrian second division.
The striker then returned to Salzburg, making his debut for the club in January 2021. He would go on to play fifty-five times for the Austrian side, scoring twenty-one times in the process.
Then, as has become customary for players who join the Red Bull family, Sesko relocated from Salzburg to Leipzig, for a fee in the region €24 million.
The deal was agreed in August 2022 ahead of a transfer the following summer. Such an arrangement likely made an approach for Sesko almost impossible.
This season is Sesko’s first in Germany, scoring seven goals in twenty-four appearances in all competitions for Leipzig. His contract is reported to contain a €50 million release clause which activates this summer.
This has put a number of Europe’s biggest clubs on red-alert as they seek to secure the services of one of the premier young striking talents, including United. However, Ekrem Konur (ESPN) believes it’s a rival who are set to steal a march on United.
Konur reveals Chelsea are “planning to start negotiations to sign” Sesko while the striker is also a target for Bayern Munich and Arsenal.
— Ekrem KONUR (@Ekremkonur) January 21, 2024
Chelsea have faced similar attacking struggles to United this season. Though Mauricio Pochettino has publicly backed Nicolas Jackson – signed in the summer from Villareal – he is believed to have privately requested additional reinforcements up front.
Under Todd Boehly, the club’s American owner, Chelsea have demonstrated an almost reckless conviction in the transfer market.
When they identify a player of interest (or, sometimes, a rival identifies a target, as Arsenal and Liverpool have recently found out), they will move quickly to close a deal.
If United do retain an interest in Sesko – as Konur contends – the injection of Chelsea to the race will likely end the possibility of the striker joining the ranks at Old Trafford.