Chelsea are ready to rival Manchester United in the battle to sign Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
United have had the Serbian World Cup midfielder near the top of the wanted list all summer and have already been in talks with his club hoping to secure a deal.
But the Independent claim Chelsea have now started to take a serious interest in the 23-year-old as the look to overhaul their squad.
And the report suggests Milinkovic-Savic could even be in favour of moving to Stamford Bridge ahead of linking up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.
Mourinho has targeted the highly-rated player, convinced he could add the extra quality his midfield has lacked over the past year.
At one stage it looked as though the transfer would be wrapped up before the start of the World Cup, with United locked in talks with Lazio over a fee.
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But the Italian club’s insistence that Milinkovic-Savic should cost over £100million meant talks stalled so that the player could link up with Serbia for Russia 2018.
His displays in Russia suggested he has the quality needed to play at the highest level, and has made Lazio even more determined to hold out for the highest bidder.
And having splashed out £52m to sign Brazilian ace Fred already this summer, the valuation has seen United pause for thought as they entertain other potential options.
That has seen other clubs become aware of the situation, realising there may be an opportunity to snap up the player that looked impossible six weeks ago.
The Blues are said to be monitoring things closely, preparing to make a move should anyone else come up with a firm bid.
Maurizio Sarri has been in Australia working with his skeleton squad before the remainder of senior players return from their post-World Cup holiday.
And the big issue he has is over the make-up of his midfield, with both Willian and Eden Hazard potentially leaving the club over the coming weeks.
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Barcelona have already made three bids for Willian, and Chelsea may sell if the offer reaches £70m.
Hazard, meanwhile, is in the sights of Real Madrid and has openly admitted it may be time to quit Stamford Bridge this summer.
Should that pair depart it would leave a huge hole in the midfield options of Sarri – and Milinkovic-Savic would be a fitting replacement to step in.