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Chelsea are considering Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles as one of their top transfer targets this summer.
Lascelles has emerged as a big character for Newcastle since joining from Nottingham Forest in 2014.
The 24-year-old was made skipper in 2016 by Rafa Benitez and has grown in the role under the Spaniard.
In October 2017, Lascelles committed his future to the club by signing a new long-term contract.
But that hasn’t stopped a host of admirers from keeping track of his progress and reports suggest Chelsea could make a move at the end of the season.
According to the Evening Standard, the Blues have been monitoring Lascelles since 2016 and are keen to add more homegrown players to their squad.
Last summer, Chelsea signed Danny Drinkwater from Leicester and in January bought Ross Barkley from Everton.
It’s claimed Chelsea’s decision to move for Lascelles is also part of an effort to lower the average age at Stamford Bridge.
Gary Cahill and David Luiz, who were crucial to Chelsea’s title winning campaign last season, will turn 33 and 31 this year.
And both players are no longer guaranteed first team players with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger the preferred players currently.
Lascelles is in the middle of a relegation battle with Newcastle but Benitez is a huge admirer of the player.
He said: “Always I say the same – I was learning this sentence [when I first came to England] – he has plenty of room for improvement.
“He has a great attitude, he is working on his leadership as a captain so I think it’s quite positive for the team. Still he can improve things.
“But in terms of mentality, character, he is someone who is going in the right direction and that is the main thing for us and the club because you don’t have too many centre-backs around with this presence and this character.
“If he continues learning things, he can be an important player in England.”