Chelsea are poised to make a move for AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi according to ESPNsoccernet.
The 27-year-old Serie A star is being lined up as a replacement for the injured Michael Essien, who has been ruled out for six months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury.
Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas will prioritise bringing a holding midfielder to Stamford Bridge this summer after Essien picked up the injury on the opening day of pre-season training.
De Rossi has only 12 months to run on his existing Roma contract, meaning he could be available for a cut-price fee of around £15million.
However the Italian outfit's sporting director Walter Sabatini is optimistic that De Rossi will extend his contract with his hometown club.
"We are working with the maximum calmness," he said. "I have spoken to Daniele. We will speak to his agent and we will make an offer."
Widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in Europe, the World Cup winnning star would make a great first signing for the new Chelsea boss.
But the Blues have also been linked in the past couple of days with a loan move for former player Scott Parker - who is seeking a return to the Barclays Premier League having been condemned to relegation last season with West Ham.