Chelsea have made Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote their number one midfield transfer target for the January transfer window, according to the Daily Express.

It claims Blues boss Roberto di Matteo is keen to recruit a new body in the defensive midfield position, due to options in that area dwindling this season.

John Obi Mikel is currently the first choice to carry out the role at Stamford Bridge, but there is not a great deal of back-up behind him.

This is because Chelsea decided to sell Raul Meireles to Turkish side Fenerbache before the window closed and also allowed injury-troubled Michael Essien join Real Madrid on a season-long loan.

Tiote has been the subject of much transfer speculation over the past year or so, as he was fantastic for Newcastle last season as Alan Pardew led the Magpies to a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Chelsea have former Barcelona academy player Oriol Romeu in the squad to fulfil the duties in front of the defence, but he has not been terribly convincing in his Stamford Bridge career so far and veteran Frank Lampard has never looked comfortable in there.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has shown in the past that he is open to selling the club’s top players, if the right offer comes in, so Chelsea could well land their man with a sizeable bid.

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