Chelsea are ready to rival Manchester United for the signature of Southampton full-back Nathaniel Clyne this summer, according to The Mirror.
Clyne's consistent level of performance this season has seen him earmarked by United boss Louis van Gaal as a priority transfer target, a situation helped by the fact he has less than 18 months left on his current deal at St Mary's.
The 23-year-old has the added bonus of being an England international that helps clubs meet their quota of home grown players, which is primarily why Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is now seriously considering a formal offer in the close season.
No rush to sign new deal
Mourinho is aware that in the long-term he must find the right man to replace Branislav Ivanovic, who despite remaining one of the world's best right-backs turned 31 earlier this week.
Clyne could fit that bill and has the same willingness to bomb on and create in the final third, albeit with a game pace rather than power.
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Chelsea mean business
Chelsea have reportedly made checks on Clyne throughout the campaign, which is perhaps why the 23-year-old continues to snub attempts from Saints chiefs to extend his deal in favour of keeping his options open.
Clyne has seen a number of players use Southampton as a springboard to land a lucrative move to a club competing at the top of the table, including former team-mates Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana.
Under the right conditions you can hardly blame the full-back for wanting some of the same, but where will he go this summer if either United or Chelsea table a bid of around £15 million for his services?
United looks a safer bet
United should definitely be concerned by interest from Chelsea in a man Van Gaal has earmarked as an upgrade on Rafael in a problem position, because the Blues have been nothing short of brilliant when it comes to transfer dealings over the last 18 months.
Clyne has a very difficult decision to make, but he could always call Shaw and ask for his advice on life at United in terms of career progression.
The former Crystal Palace starlet will arguably never be in a stronger bargaining position than he is right now, relatively free from contract constraints and able to make a considered decision over what do with the long-term in mind.
Chelsea certainly represent a very tempting proposition, but competition for a starting spot looks extremely stiff. Clyne was decide if his chances of nailing down a regular spot are stronger at United, or if he's ready to back his own ability and gamble on forcing his way to a prominent role under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea fans, do you think Clyne is good enough to replace Branislav Ivanovic. Should he seriously turn down Man United to take a chance on shining at the Bridge? Have your say in the comment box below!
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