La Liga champions Atletico Madrid have opened talks with Chelsea over the transfer of Germany international Andre Schurrle. The 23-year-old appears content to stay at Stamford Bridge, but could be sold regardless by Blues boss Jose Mourinho, who needs to offload one of his first-team foreign players before the transfer window closes on September 1.
News of Atletico's surprise move comes courtesy of the Daily Mail. Mourinho currently has 18 first-team overseas players in his squad, but only 17 places are up for grabs, meaning Schurrle could be told to leave the west London outfit.
Mourinho reluctant to sell Schurrle
However, the Portuguese coach would rather sell another of his foreign stars over Schurrle, who helped Germany lift the World Cup in Brazil earlier this summer.
Speculation has been rife that Petr Cech is the player Mourinho wants to sell this month, now that he has decided Thibaut Courtois will be his number one goalkeeper.
Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are believed to be interested in the Czech Republic international, who was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season, although Mourinho recently stated that he would be happy to keep both Cech and Courtois at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea can fetch more money for Schurrle
Chelsea can expect to fetch up to £10 million for Cech, but Atletico are expected to offer a more lucrative figure for the services of Schurrle, who cost the Blues £18 million to sign from Bayer Leverkusen last summer.
The former Bundesliga star had a mixed debut season with Chelsea, making 43 appearances and scoring nine goals, including a hat-trick against Fulham in March.
But Atletico boss Diego Simeone was clearly impressed with what he saw from Schurrle during the World Cup finals - and wants to add the Germany international to his squad, who face the daunting challenge of defending their La Liga crown against Barcelona and Real Madrid sides that have been significantly strengthened this summer.
Chelsea's Cuadrado chase
Mourinho may reluctantly agree to sell Schurrle in order to secure a deal for Colombia international Juan Cuadrado, who has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United and Barcelona, as well as the Blues, in recent months.
Barcelona have reportedly been priced out of the race for the £32 million-rated winger, while Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal appears to be prioritising other key signings before securing a deal for the South American ace.
This means Chelsea have an opportunity to sign the winger from under their Premier League rivals' noses, but a move is only likely to happen if Schurrle is offloaded to the Vicente Calderon.