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Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri was reportedly in London on Sunday amid links to the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
According to French football journalist Nabil Djellit (h/t Harry Howes of the Daily Star), the Ivory Coast international is set to leave the Ligue 1 side and has been in touch with Arsenal and Chelsea.
As noted by Sky Sports, the midfielder has not joined up with Nice for the start of their pre-season camp, fuelling rumours a move to the Premier League is close. It’s added that Seri has a £35 million release clause in his contract and that Fulham, West Ham United, Napoli and Sevilla have shown interest.
According to David Ornstein of BBC Sport, the Gunners are closing in on midfield targets Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, meaning the Blues appear Seri’s most likely destination as things stand.
Get French Football News said it appears as though a transfer in the coming days is inevitable for the 26-year-old:
Get French Football News @GFFN
Jean-Michaël Seri despite being initially included in the squad for OGC Nice's pre-season trip to Divonne-les-Bains, did not travel, after being authorised by the club to stay behind. Suggests that a move away is imminent.
Seri has established himself as one of the most talented midfielders in French football in recent years, providing a steady and classy presence at the heart of the Nice midfield.
Seri’s game is centred around excellent distribution, as he is capable of bossing midfield battles with his passing range and intelligent positioning. He was outstanding in the 2016-17 season, helping Nice finish third in Ligue 1.
As noted by Jeremy Smith, the performances of the playmaker have led to some illustrious comparisons:
Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98
Jean-Mickael Seri, who has been in contact with Arsenal and Chelsea, in in London.
Excellent ball-playing central/attacking midfielder, has been nicknamed the African Xavi. Would fit well at Arsenal but would be perfect for a Sarri team… https://t.co/BIa4sIGxhn
While the arrival of Patrick Vieira, one of the best midfielders of his generation, as manager will be exciting to plenty of Nice players, the time appears right for Seri to move on, especially given the calibre of club interested in him.
Chelsea find themselves in an intriguing position, though, as rumours remain rife about who their next coach will be.
Per the Times (h/t Coral Barry of Metro), it was reported in June that uncertainty over the manager’s position—Antonio Conte is reportedly set to be replaced by Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri—has hampered Chelsea’s transfer dealings.
Per ESPN FC’s Liam Twomey, it’s a remarkable situation the Blues find themselves in:
Liam Twomey @liam_twomey
It’s hard to overstate just how big a mess this is. Chelsea have been trying to get Sarri since May. The transfer window closes in just over a month & there have been zero signings.
One person familiar with the situation described it to me as “unbelievable”. #cfc
With that in mind, it would be intriguing to see if Seri does come in. If Sarri was to be appointed boss, the style he implements would be ideal for the midfielder, as the Italian loves his sides to build from the back and play with high intensity in midfield.
Seri appears ready to make the step up to an elite side. While his level did drop a little last season for Nice, working alongside better footballers should enhance his ball-playing talents.
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