Chelsea have reached an agreement with Croatian club HNK Rijeka for the transfer of highly-rated striker Andrej Kramaric.
The 23-year-old Croatia international will sign a contract with the west London outfit over the next few days, according to Croatian newspaper Vecernji, after which the deal will be officially confirmed.
However, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is set to loan the striker out for the remainder of the 2014-15 campaign, with Premier League strugglers Leicester City his likely destination.
Fernando Torres replacement
Kramaric might be regarded as a long-term replacement for Fernando Torres, Chelsea’s club-record signing who secured a permanent transfer to AC Milan before being loaned to former employers Atletico Madrid this week.
Despite winning several major honours - including the Champions League - during his three years at Stamford Bridge, Torres’s Chelsea career was a huge disappointment. The £50 million striker scored just 20 league goals in 110 appearances for the Blues.
Kramaric, who has scored 21 goals in 18 league matches for Rijeka this term, will cost a fraction of the price Chelsea paid for Torres in 2011. It’s believed Mourinho could sign the striker for as little as £7.5 million.
Because of his remarkable goalscoring prowess, Kramaric has been favourably compared to Croatia legend - and former Real Madrid and Arsenal striker - Davor Suker.
Italian champions Juventus were strongly linked with Kramaric this year, with the player himself admitting a move to Turin would be a “dream”, but Chelsea appear to have won the race for the talented striker, who will find himself competing with Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge.
Kramaric warned against joining Chelsea
Because of the intense competition for places at Chelsea, Rijeka agent Predrag Racki has publicly advised the striker to join Leicester instead of the Blues.
But it seems Kramaric will get the best of both worlds, by joining Chelsea on a permanent deal before having the chance to showcase his credentials at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester are currently rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, having won just three of their opening 19 matches.
The overwhelming favourites to drop back down to the Championship, Leicester will be hoping that Kramaric can do them and himself a massive favour by scoring the goals to keep the club in the top flight come May.