Chelsea and Manchester City are set to go head-to-head in a battle to sign Karim Benzema, reports suggest.
According to talkSPORT, Blues boss Jose Mourinho is in the market for a new striker and is eyeing a move for Benzema, whilst Premier League title rivals City are also monitoring his contract situation ahead of a possible swoop this summer.
The same source further suggests that although Real Madrid have opened negotiations over a potential new deal for the former Lyon star, that an agreement between the two parties is not closed to being reached and that, if the La Liga giants did indeed decide to part company with the player, they would be looking for a fee at least in the region of £40 million.
26-year-old Benzema - who has amassed 65 senior international caps for his native France - joined Real from Ligue 1 during the big summer of 2009, a period during which Real Madrid also enlisted the signings of Kaka and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo for then world-record fees.
Benzema's near five-year stint at the Bernabeu to date has seen him draw a mixed reaction from fans. While his goalscoring record is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, his on-pitch demeanour and application levels have sometimes drawn criticism from the stands.
He certainly appears to have issued a suitable riposte to his list of doubters this season, however, having linked up magnificently with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to notch 17 goals in 28 domestic encounters as Real Madrid have established their credentials at the top of La Liga.
News that Chelsea - who currently lead the Premier League following Saturday's devastating 6-0 thrashing of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge - appear to be chasing the signing of another forward will certainly come as little surprise, particularly given that doubts continue to persist over the futures of Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres as well as Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku.
Manchester City, meanwhile, do not exactly lack a capable striker with the trio of Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko all jostling for position at the Etihad Stadium.
However, since the club secured significant financial investment in 2008, the 2011/12 title winners have not been shy to spend heavy sums on new recruits to provide a significant challenge to their existing squad members and I highly doubt that it is going to change too much under Manuel Pellegrini.