Chelsea plan to hold talks with Everton over a £30million deal for Ross Barkley after the two teams clash on Sunday.
Midfielder Barkley, 23, is one of a trio of stars which includes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Drinkwater wanted by the Premier League champions.
Blues boss Antonio Conte is keen to build an English ‘core’ of players to complement the international feel of Chelsea’s dressing room.
Tottenham also want Barkley but Conte is ready to slug it out with Chelsea’s rivals to get his man even though he is currently crocked with a hamstring injury.
Conte said: “For me it’s very important to continue to improve, to continue to work with my players on the pitch, to improve my players and my team.
“These are the most important things for me. For sure, the club is trying to strengthen our squad and our team. They are working very hard to do this, but you know very well the situation. The situation is this.”
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright are both expected at Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs are willing to pay up to £28m for Barkley who is believed to want around £150K a week wages -which would not be a problem for Chelsea.
That is what they pay rebel striker Diego Costa but it is also what the club is fining him every two weeks’ for being AWOL, meaning the hotheaded Spaniard is off the payroll.
Barkley is out of contract at the end of the season similarly to Arsenal’s versatile Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Chelsea are also keen on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk but Saints are digging in and refusing to sell.
Insiders at St.Mary’s say the new Chinese owners want to end the tradition of Southampton being a ‘selling club’ and will make a statement by forcing van Dijk to stay even though he has made it clear he wants out.
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