CHELSEA have reportedly suffered a big blow in their pursuit of Moises Caicedo after Brighton REJECTED their latest offer.
The Blues are said to have offered £80million to try and seal the deal.
However, according to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Brighton immediately rejected the bid.
The Seagulls are holding out on their £100m valuation of the midfielder.
Chelsea's latest offer is an improvement of £10m from their last offer.
Caicedo, 21, appeared to smirk when asked by fans about a Chelsea move while signing autographs during Brighton's pre-season.
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On the prospective move, Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has alluded to Caicedo being the answer to a number of his squad's present issues.
When asked about signing a new midfielder following Chelsea's 1-1 pre-season draw with Newcastle, he said: “That’s the idea. The club is working on that.
“We need to add a player there. We need one more with experience.
“It depends on the situation of different players. We need at least one more and we are working on that. It depends on what happens in the next few weeks.”
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However, Pochettino has also warned about the need to shift more players out of his squad.
During the Blues' pre-season tour of the States, he has had a 29-man playing group to choose from, opting to heavily rotate in their three games so far but insisted he wants to work with a smaller team.
He said: "We have 29 players here and it is massive. It’s going to create a mess in the squad.
“At the moment the dynamic is very good, but in every game three, four, five players cannot play and that is difficult because the mood is difficult.
“It is about creating a squad with good balance and people who have the opportunity to play and can compete for their place.
“If players are not happy because they believe they are not going to play, we are going to find a solution with the club and fix the situation.
“Maybe less is more and more is less. It is not mathematic. That is why I need to make clear we don't need a big squad. We need 22, 23, 24 players with some younger and that's it.
“I am so sorry because maybe the decision will be tough but we need to build a good and a balanced team who want to compete for things.”
Elsewhere, Chelsea are said to be leading the race to sign Ajax ace Mohammed Kudus.
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