Jody Morris believes sealing new long-term contracts for Reece James and Mason Mount could prove Chelsea’s biggest signings of a record-breaking summer.
England wing-back James is understood to be close to completing a new long-term deal to stay at Chelsea, with talks on a similar extension for Mount thought to be progressing positively too.
Real Madrid have had James in their sights as a long-term target, but the Bernabeu giants will see any current designs on the 22-year-old thwarted by Chelsea securing a new deal for one of their brightest talents.
Chelsea spent more than £270million in a record transfer window spree, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the final high-profile addition on Thursday.
The Blues’ former assistant boss Morris hailed Chelsea’s new owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali for “working in tandem” with manager Thomas Tuchel amid a wide-ranging squad overhaul.
But the former Blues midfielder considers new terms for James and Mount as the most vital moves for the club.
“It looks like the manager and the owners are working in tandem, and that’s important going forward,” Morris told the PA news agency.
“The new owners are backing the manager and that’s big, especially with some big and important signings coming through the door.
“But when you’re looking at the two most important signings, for me it would have to be seeing Mason Mount and Reece James tied down to new long-term deals.
“They are the first names on the team-sheet and they need to be tied down, and I think that’s got to be what they are looking at next.”
James’ deal expires in 2024 with Mount’s existing terms running until 2025.
Boehly and Eghbali have already signed academy graduate Armando Broja to a new six-year deal, shutting down any further talk of the Albania striker leaving west London.
West Ham and Newcastle had been pushing all summer for a permanent deal, while plenty of clubs would have jumped at the chance to take Broja on loan.
Chelsea started the summer window with deals for Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella.
Wesley Fofana completed a £69.5m deal earlier this week, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed his move from Barcelona on deadline day.
Denis Zakaria has also come in on a season-long loan from Juventus, with an option to buy next summer.
Midfielders Carney Chukwuemeka and Cesare Casadei have topped the billing on a clutch of highly-rated young additions too.
Morris revealed how Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers tipped Fofana for the very top more than two years ago.
“Fofana’s a really good signing, and definitely one for the future as well as now,” Morris said.
“Thomas Tuchel was obviously looking for extra reassurance in the defensive area.
“I remember going up against Leicester when we were at Chelsea and Brendan Rodgers saying to me then ‘this kid’s going to be unbelievable’. He really saw him as one for the future.
“The fact he’s come back after his injury and performed at the level he was at before is a good sign for Chelsea, and a good sign going forward.”
Morris worked alongside ex-Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard at Derby and then the Blues, but opted not to take another assistant role with his close friend at Everton.
The 43-year-old is now looking for his first manager’s job, and building as much behind the scenes experience during that search.
“I’ve had a couple of interviews and not quite got over the line,” said Morris, speaking on behalf of OPPO.
“I do want to become a manager and I feel it’s something I’m destined to do.
“There’s been a couple that I’ve maybe not taken because it doesn’t seem right, but then there’s also a couple that I was hoping to get and never quite got over the line.
“I’m definitely going to be go into a few clubs this season, watching people work.
“It was something I did even when I was working at Chelsea. I enjoy watching other coaches and managers work.
“So It’s something I’ll be doing throughout this season, not just in the Premier League but also abroad as well.”
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