Medhi Benatia appears to have given the biggest hint yet that he plans to remain at Roma this summer, seemingly dealing a significant blow to Chelsea and Manchester United's hopes of signing the Moroccan international defender.
27-year-old Benatia - who joined Roma from Udinese a year ago - enjoyed an impressive 2013/14 campaign in the Italian capital, making 33 Serie A appearances as Rudi Garcia's side finished runners-up to eventual champions Juventus.
Such an encouraging run of form has already led to much speculation concerning Benatia's future, with both Chelsea and Manchester City having been speculated as potential suitors for several months now and Manchester United most recently credited with an interest in his signature. However, according to reports from talkSPORT, it appears that all three will have to look to other targets.
Roma affection/Chelsea interest
"Thanks for the affection. I think I will stay here," Benatia is reported as telling a group of evidently passionate Roma fanatics as they demonstrated their support for the player with a complementary banner at the team's pre-season training camp.
Whether those Roma fans will believe what they hear is another matter entirely, particularly given certain reports that surfaced earlier this week that claimed £30 million-rated Benatia had his eye on summer switch to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho instantly settled on a partnership of Gary Cahill and the experienced John Terry at the heart of defence during his first season back at the club, with the English duo repaying such faith with a series of highly-accomplished displays that saw the Blues concede the least amount of goals in the entire Premier League.
The durability displayed by that aforementioned pair would suggest that Chelsea have no immediate need to upgrade their options in central defence, although the departure of maverick David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain - coupled with Mourinho's apparent eagerness to see January signing Kurt Zouma embark upon another loan spell in the near future - could change things somewhat.
Watch: The latest Chelsea transfer news
Manchester duo need defenders
Manchester United, in contrast, are certainly in need of bolstering their backline under new manager Louis van Gaal.
With Rio Ferdinand and former captain Nemanja Vidic having both exited Old Trafford this summer, the reputable Dutchman - who officially starts work at Manchester United's Carrington training complex today - will need to add at least one new talented centre-back or else be forced to rely on the likes of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling to remain fit and perform at their very best for an entire season.
Manchester City also appear to have made little secret of their desire to recruit a new defender.
While Vincent Kompany has proved formidably successful in English football, there has long been a feeling at the Etihad Stadium that the club are yet to find an effective partner for the dominant Belgian 'skipper.
Much-maligned Argentinian Martin Demichelis - to his credit - made up for a somewhat uncomfortable year at domestic level to prove a reliable performer during his nation's recent run at the World Cup finals, although question marks over his ability remain.
Matija Nastasic has shown fleeting glimpses of talent since joining the champions from Fiorentina in 2012, but a succession of injuries have served to limit his impact and potential.
Benatia - a very composed defender capable of standing firm in a defensive capacity and also contributing to his team's cause with several goals-per-season - would represent a significant capture for each of these Premier League giants, although it now seems they face a considerable battle to convince him to leave the Stadio Olimpico.
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