Chelsea have been given a massive boost in their pursuit of Raphael Varane after is club Real Madrid offered his team-mate Pepe a new contract, according to The Mirror.
Pepe has been Carlo Ancelotti's preferred partner for Sergio Ramos this season, leaving Varane on the bench for the majority of the season. At 32-years-old, it seemed Varane could eventually become his successor, but the deal on offer will keep him at the Bernabeu until 2017.
There could even be an option for a further season included, leaving Varane's future at the club in serious doubt. Although only 21-years-old, the France international is desperate for more first-team football and could force his way out of the club this summer.
Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing him to Stamford Bridge having originally brought him to Real Madrid whilst manager. The Special One has made him his priority target for the summer and Ancelotti's decision to lock down Pepe's future is a significant boost in his pursuit.
Mourinho is looking for a long-term successor to John Terry even though he has confirmed the Chelsea captain will be at the club next season. Terry has been in great form this season and will be a significant loss when he finally decides to retire.
Manchester United interest
But Chelsea will have to battle Manchester United if they want to complete a deal for Varane this summer. Louis van Gaal has been strongly linked with a move for the centre-back as he looks to reinforce his defence for next season.
Mourinho may have an advantage because of his relationship with Varane, but the Red Devils have significantly more funds. Van Gaal could have as much as £150 million to spend this season and would have problem meeting Real Madrid's £40 million price tag.
Real Madrid are under no pressure to sell, but have allowed to big stars to leave for the Premier League in previous summers. Mesut Ozil left to fund a move for Gareth Bale while Angel di Maria left so James Rodriguez could come in.
If Real Madrid want to sign another Galactico, then Varane is an expendable talent. Paul Pogba, who has long been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid, would cost an exceptional amount. Selling Varane for £40 million would help them to stay on the right side of financial fair play.
Are Real Madrid right to be thinking of cashing in on Varane or is he too good to release? Give us your thoughts in the comments box below!