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Chelsea will not let Ethan Ampadu join Empoli on loan until they complete a ‘major’ centre-back signing this summer, according to reports.
Ampadu spent last season on loan at Venezia and impressed for the Italian side, despite them being relegated from the Serie A.
It was his third spell away from the club, having previously featured for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga and Sheffield United in the Premier League.
The Blues have been in the market this summer for new defensive additions, with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen both departing upon their expiration of their contracts.
Wesley Fofana of Leicester City has emerged as the most recent target for the west London outfit, with Thomas Tuchel’s side pushing for a move.
The Athletic have said that Chelsea will 'sanction another season-long loan deal' and according to the Evening Standard, Ampadu has received a loan offer from Empoli, a move that would therefore see him return to the Italian top flight.
However, his parent club will not allow him to leave before they make a ‘major defensive signing’.
The same report has revealed that the Blues are set to make a third offer for Fofana, even though the Foxes have recently rejected a £70 million bid.
Leicester’s stance on the Frenchman has remained the same over the past few days; he is not for sale.
Despite this, the 21-year-old centre-back wants to make the move to Chelsea and Brendan Rodger’s side would think about selling him if ‘an exceptional offer’ was to be made.
After their victory against Everton on Saturday, Tuchel made an admission on his current options in defence, with all those starting in the back three being over the age of 30.
“All three of our players in the back three are in their thirties and we struggled a bit in general at the end of the game,” said the German.
“We need to improve our physical level and we are on it. Thiago is a key player in the middle of the defence right now, but we need to move more on the ball, to invest more with runs.”
Summer signings Raheem Sterling, Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella all made their debuts in the win against the Toffees, as well as Conor Gallagher after his loan spell at Crystal Palace last season.
Saturday also saw Ben Chilwell make his first start for the club since November after his return from injury, and Tuchel expressed his delight of seeing the 25-year-old back in the side.
"Everyone is so happy. He worked so hard through pre-season and his holidays after his injury to have this possibility.
“It came maybe early, he still lacks rhythm and full confidence. There is no other way than playing."