CHELSEA are chasing Athletic Bilbao centre-half Aymeric Laporte – but will have to pay £55million to snap him up.
Blues boss Antonio Conte is set to make reinforcements to his defensive ranks with John Terry set to leave the club, and doubts over whether Kurt Zouma will ever become first choice.
And Laporte, who is also being courted by Manchester City, has emerged as Conte’s top transfer target this summer.
The 22-year-old has a release clause of £54.6million in his contract, that runs up to 2020.
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But if he sees out the summer at Bilbao, that release clause goes up to £58.9million, so Conte may decide to move quickly to snap up the centre-half.
Laporte came through the ranks at Basconia – a fourth-tied outfit based in Spain’s Basque region, which includes Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.
He played 33 times for the club before joining Bilbao’s youth team in 2012 and impressing enough for an almost immediate promotion to the senior squad.
The France Under-21s international has since played over 150 times for Athletic despite his tender years and has rarely been out of the first team.
Laporte is yet to make his full debut for France – and may switch allegiance to Spain – but has made 51 appearances for Les Blues at various youth levels.