Chelsea have made Everton defender Seamus Coleman their new top transfer target, with the Blues increasingly confident they can persuade the Toffees to accept a £20 million bid next summer.
Coleman has earned a long-term admirer in Jose Mourinho with a string of consistent, high-tempo performances for Everton, who are desperate to keep the Republic of Ireland international but have already begun scouting potential replacements as a contingency.
Everton may find it difficult to turn down a massive offer for a player who they signed for just £60,000 from Sligo Rovers back in 2009, with Chelsea ready to test their resolve as they get ready to make a move for the man who they believe could be Branislav Ivanovic's long-term replacement at Stamford Bridge.
Ivanovic needs a successor
Mourinho has proven to be a ruthless operator in the transfer market over the last two seasons, which means that despite remaining a key figure for Chelsea this season Ivanovic could be approaching the final chapter of his Blues career.
Ivanovic turns 31 in February and by that time will have less than 18 months on his current Chelsea contract, so Mourinho starting the search for his eventual successor is only natural.
Will Man United also revive their interest in Coleman?
Chelsea will surely have still competition for Coleman's signature though, with the kind of pace, power and attacking threat he offers from out wide in high demand across the Premier League's biggest clubs.
Manchester United in particular have tracked Coleman very closely in recent times, dating back even beyond his former manager David Moyes beginning an ill-fated tenure as Red Devils.
Louis van Gaal's current squad still looks short of a top right-back, or at least genuine competition for Rafael's starting spot. Van Gaal's preference for a 3-5-2 formation featuring wing-backs would also suit Coleman perfectly, giving the Republic of Ireland international the same licence to get forward he currently enjoys at Goodison Park.
Everton won't sell in January under any circumstances, but if their interest in Barcelona's Martin Montoya or even promising Rochdale youngster Rhys Bennett becomes concrete the Daily Mail believe Chelsea could well be in luck, but will have to be patient and wait until the close of the current campaign to conclude this huge transfer.