After weeks of brinkmanship, reports on Monday night suggested that Chelsea have finally taken the first steps to signing Leicester star N’Golo Kanté.
The 25-year-old is widely expected to leave the King Power Stadium this summer, and while a number of clubs in England and further afield have been linked with the player, he has apparently already chosen Chelsea as his preferred destination.
With that in mind, the Blues were prepared to wait before making an offer, but interest from the Chinese Super League has spurred them into action.
New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has put his efforts in to signing Kanté having seen bids for other targets, including André Gomes and Radja Nainggolan, come to nothing.
Kanté’s release clause is set at £20million, so theoretically they would have to accept any bids that match that. However, they are only obliged to accept the highest offer over that figure.
Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG are reportedly prepared to pay £35m to land Kanté, which would present a problem for Chelsea’s bid, but they will hope to negotiate a deal with Leicester given the fact that the player would prefer to move to Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League champions’ attempts to keep the energetic midfielder have failed; he rejected their £100,000 per week contract offer and made it clear that he was keen to leave the club this summer.
Kanté will return to England from international duty within the next week or so (as will Conte), at which point it is likely that some headway will be made on this deal.
As the summer develops, however, the chances of Kanté signing for Chelsea appear to be increasing.