Both clubs are ready to pay the Uruguayan’s £52m release clause (Picture: Getty)
Chelsea appear to have the upper hand in the race to sign Manuel Ugarte with the Sporting midfielder favouring a move to the Premier League, according to reports.
The 22-year-old looks set to leave Lisbon in the coming weeks with super-agent Jorge Mendes actively working on securing a swift transfer.
Paris Saint-Germain have been laying the groundwork for some time and are prepared to pay Ugarte’s €60million (£52m) release clause, though they are hoping to structure the deal in instalments rather than one up-front fee.
But the French champions face competition for the Uruguayan’s signature, with Chelsea prepared to match their offer with a similarly structured deal.
There is still potential for other clubs to join the race, with Liverpool holding long-standing interest in the midfielder too, but it is now starting to look like a straight shootout between Chelsea and PSG.
That could bode well for the west Londoners, with Portuguese newspaper Record reporting that Ugarte’s preference would be a move to Stamford Bridge over the Parc des Princes.
While he is open to moving to Paris and appreciates the interest, it has been his dream to play in the Premier League.
Ugarte is very attracted to playing in the Premier League (Picture: Getty)
A host of Uruguay’s most celebrated players have played in England, going back to Gus Poyet over two decades ago to the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani more recently.
Ugarte feels the Premier League represents a better challenge from a sporting perspective, though he will listen to offers from all interested parties before making a decision.
The terms being offered will play a significant part in his thought process too and Chelsea could potentially be trumped by PSG in this respect, with the west London club’s owners preferring to offer smaller wages but longer deals.
Although Chelsea are the only Premier League club to solidify their interest in Ugarte so far, Liverpool could yet make a rival offer while Tottenham, Newcastle and Aston Villa are also believed to be keen.
At a press conference on Thursday, Sporting manager Ruben Amorim conceded it would be ‘difficult to keep’ a player of Ugarte’s quality and appears resigned to losing the midfielder.
Ugarte has been scouted extensively by a host of European giants this season, with the Uruguayan putting up some phenomenal numbers; he leads the Portuguese league for successful tackles, making 121 so far, while he has also racked up the most interceptions (57) in the division.
MORE : Levi Colwill feeling ‘brilliant’ after Chelsea are thrashed by Manchester United
MORE : ‘This is why we play five at the back’ – Frank Lampard gives damning assessment of Chelsea after Manchester United thrashing
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Both clubs are ready to pay the Uruguayan’s £52m release clause.