Chelsea are poised to offer St Etienne £13m for their highly-rated teenage defender Kurt Zouma, according to the Guardian.
The Blues are determined to beat Arsenal, Manchester City and AS Monaco to the France Under-21 international's signature - and, subsequently, could make a move as early as January.
Chelsea were initially prepared to wait until the end of the season before making a formal offer for 19-year-old Zouma, who is currently serving a 10-match ban for a tackle which left Sochaux's Thomas Guerbert with a broken leg in November.
But in order to beat the competition, Jose Mourinho is keen to get a deal done in the new year.
It's currently unclear how or if Zouma's arrival would affect the club's other centre-backs.
David Luiz remains one of Barcelona's top transfer targets, while club captain John Terry has yet to sign a contract extension, despite the fact his current deal expires at the end of the season.