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Mercato Madness: Chelsea and Real Madrid considering Faouzi Ghoulam transfer

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Napoli may face a tough test if they want to keep their star left back this summer.

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A number of Napoli players were expected to be pursued this summer, not least of whom are the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho. Other players are also expected to be shopped by the club, guys who under-performed or don't fit Maurizio Sarri's vision very well. Even with all that, though, there's one player not many Napoli fans have thought about as leaving this summer: Faouzi Ghoulam.

Well, it might be time to revise that opinion -- both Chelsea and Real Madrid are expected to pursue Ghoulam this summer after the Algerian left back put in one excellent performance after another, with a few jaw-droppingly good ones mixed in for good measure. Sure, he had a couple rough days towards the end of the season, but so did the entire Napoli squad.

Apparently Ghoulam's excellent displays caught the eye of Jose Mourinho, as the Chelsea manager is eager to strengthen his squad, which could do with a little more depth all along the back line. Ghoulam would be an excellent way to achieve that goal, and with the eye for talent that Mourinho and Chelsea's scouts have, it's little wonder that they've targeted him.

Then there's Real Madrid, where former Napoli boss Rafa Benitez now plies his trade. With Fabio Coentrao expected to leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer alongside several other fringe players, apparently Benitez wants Ghoulam to replace him as Madrid's backup left back. To be honest, though, while the deal is plausible, this feels more like a "manager connected with good former player" rumor, and less like something with a chance of happening like the Chelsea report does.

Some reports indicate that Chelsea have, in fact, already made a €15 million bid for Ghoulam and been rebuffed by Napoli. The partenopei would of course be loathe to lose their star left back, but given that Napoli are facing a summer that a number of transfer need to be made, and with a pretty darn good replacement already in-house in Ivan Strinic -- maybe, just maybe, if Chelsea come back with an offer at or over, say, €20 million, it'd be hard to say no to that.