Chelsea have installed Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke ahead of Cesc Fabregas as their primary transfer target to replace Frank Lampard due to concerns that the Barcelona schemer won't suit Jose Mourinho's high-tempo playing style, according to The Times.
The Blues have been linked with both Spanish internationals as they bid to find a suitable replacement for Chelsea legend Lampard, who announced 13 fantastic years at Stamford Bridge had come to an end earlier this week.
Lampard's departure has seen Chelsea consistently mentioned in connection with a stunning £30m swoop for ex-Arsenal captain Fabregas, but The Times believe Mourinho favours a rather more expensive £48m move for Koke.
Mourinho sold Juan Mata because he didn't feel the technically-gifted star could match his desire for a furious work-rate off the ball and swift high-octane attacking when in possession, concerns he also has about Fabregas.
The former Gunners linchpin has a penchant for picking out a potent pass in the final third, although Mourinho is concerned he has a tendency to slow play down in order to find that gap in advanced areas.
Koke on the other hand has forged a strong reputation for covering huge ground over 90 minutes week-in, week-out, which is why Chelsea would prefer to beat Barca and Manchester United to land the 22-year-old in a long-term move to build for the future.
Chelsea are still very much interested in Fabregas despite these reservations, although he is viewed alongside Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho as a contingency rather than primary transfer target.
The Blues face stiff competition for both stars though and a race against time to get either deal done quickly, with the World Cup now just over a week away and requiring focus from all involved ahead of speculation over futures at club level.