The Blues have had a £70m offer rejected for the highly-rated 21-year-old, who has attracted the interest of several top clubs thanks to his fine performances for the Seagulls.
Caicedo seems the natural fit to fill the void left by N’Golo Kante, after the Frenchman joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad.
Kante has been joined out of the exit door by Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount this summer, while Jorginho left in the January transfer window – all three men signing for rival clubs.
Their need for a midfielder was made clear after they brought just six midfielders on their US tour – who together average just 7.6 starts in the Premier League.
Caicedo, meanwhile, has exploded into prominence since making his debut for Brighton in an FA Cup loss to Tottenham in February 2022. Since then he never looked back, becoming a regular in the starting XI and making 53 appearances.
Even before their summer clear-out, Chelsea were in desperate need of an injury-free No 6, with Kante’s involvement diminishing in recent seasons due to his worsening fitness. The Blues finished 12th in the Premier League last year, with Kante making just nine appearances across all competitions.
For Brighton, Caicedo was an ever-present in helping Brighton qualify for Europe for the first time in the club’s history.
Pochettino wants to add Premier League experience to a squad which has lost a lot of that this summer, while also bringing in a heap of players from overseas during recent transfer windows.
Chelsea’s new manager will have plenty to admire over the youngster, who ranked in the top five of Premier League midfielders for both passes and tackles completed.
His passing accuracy was second only to Manchester City star Rodri among midfielders in the league and he was also top ten for interceptions, ball recoveries, duel success and passes into the final third.
Caicedo styles himself after Kante, admitting at the age of 19 that the two-time Premier League winner was his idol.
He said: ‘N’Golo Kante [is my idol]. I like the way Kante plays because he pressures a lot. I learn every day when I watch him. I think it helps watching these top players if you want to carry on improving.’
The midfielder already seems a natural replacement for Kante, with the benefit of being 11-years the Frenchman’s junior with little injury issues to date.
His signing could also benefit players around him in the Chelsea squad.
Chelsea had issues in both areas of the field last season, conceding more goals (47) than they scored (38).
New additions to their forward line all struggled to find the back of the net, while they also conceded goals for fun. The lack of a regular consistent defensive midfielder was a contributing factor towards that, leaving the backline more vulnerable to the opposition’s attack.
Caicedo’s boundless energy and knack for recovering the ball should be able to better break down attacks than Chelsea were able to manage last year.
Another player who could benefit from Caicedo at Stamford Bridge is Argentine World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez.
The British record £107m star looked like a player who had been shackled up in the second-half of the season after his January switch from Benfica.
The problems that mounted around him meant that he at times had to fill in the defensive duties for his side – when is best suited as a more creative, attacking midfielder.
He was found wanting at times in a role more unnatural to him, struggling when defending one-on-one with speedy players such as Borussia Dortmund’s Karim Adeyemi in the Champions League.
Fernandez would relish the signing of Caicedo, as it would allow him to play further up the pitch and show what he can really do for the Blues.
Caicedo would be a big coup for the Blues, particularly when you look at the rival clubs who have been interested in him.
Arsenal desperately tried to sign him in January, and the player himself wished to make the switch, only for Brighton to price him out of a move after rejecting a £70m bid.
Liverpool and Manchester United have both also been linked with a move for the Seagulls midfielder given their respective needs to strengthen in the middle of the park this summer.
So it would prove a real coup for Chelsea to still be able to pull off a deal for Caicedo – when they finished in the bottom half of the Premier League table.
Though Chelsea have reportedly had a £70m bid rejected for the midfielder, there is a long way to go in the transfer market.
Caicedo showed in the January saga that he is not afraid to kick up a stir if he doesn’t get his desired move.
He pleaded with the Seagulls to let him leave writing in a social media post: ‘I am the youngest of 10 siblings from a poor upbringing in Santa Domingo in Ecuador. My dream (was) always to be the most decorated player in the history of Ecuador,’ Caicedo wrote on Instagram.
‘I am proud to be able to bring in a record transfer fee for Brighton which would allow them to reinvest it and help the club continue to be successful.
‘The fans have taken me into their hearts and they will always be in my heart, so I hope they can understand why I want to take up this magnificent opportunity.’
Arsenal didn’t get their man at the time, but Chelsea will be hoping that they and Caicedo can do enough to get the Blues to lower their £100m demands.
The Ecuadorian fills a massive hole which could allow their new signings over the last year prosper up front and ahead of him in midfield.
The signing of Kante in 2016 helped the Blues move up from tenth place in the table to Premier League winners the next season.
That would be unlikely if Chelsea signed Caicedo – given that the Blues won the title just two years prior at the time and with the likes of Man City, Arsenal, Newcastle, Man United and Liverpool – there is a stronger top bunch of teams now than there was then.
But Caicedo is a player who Pochettino can build around and propel the Blues back into contention for the biggest trophies.