Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has identified Mehdi Benatia as the one player he would like to sign before the transfer window slams shut, with the Blues confident that a €38m offer will be enough to land one of European football's most consistent defenders ahead of Manchester United.
Benatia has been a familiar feature of the transfer gossip column this summer and given his form in Serie A over the last 12 months that's hardly a surprise, with the towering centre-half helping Roma keep an astonishing 20 clean sheets last season.
Mourinho will need to find John Terry's long-term successor at some stage and believes Benatia can fit the bill, leading Gazzetta dello Sport to report this morning that Roma are aware Chelsea's interest in concrete and are reluctantly prepared to cash in on the Moroccan stopper.
Benatia fits the bill
Without question its Manchester United who look more in need of a commanding presence at centre-back with the Premier League season now just six days away, but try telling that to Mourinho.
The Blues boss is wary that Terry and Gary Cahill currently only have French youngster Kurt Zouma or the versatile Branislav Ivanovic as direct competition, perhaps bar centre-forward the one position a star-studded Chelsea squad could benefit from added quality.
Benatia would certainly tick that box and then some, a confident, composed defender who also poses a huge threat in the opposite penalty area from set pieces.
Will Roma sell?
At some point during the current transfer window no fewer than four Premier League teams have enquired about the 27-year-old, who has snubbed offers of an improved contract from Roma so far this summer to create widespread speculation he wants to cash in on his fine form with a lucrative move.
Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City both found Roma's lofty €38m asking price too rich for their blood though, which leaves United and Chelsea as the only likely candidates to secure a marquee summer signing in what's left of the summer transfer window.
Out of Garcia's hands?
Roma boss Rudi Garcia is desperate to keep his defensive linchpin for a fresh assault on Serie A and the Champions League this season, but has conceded that while the window is still open there's every chance the club may decide the chance to make a massive profit on Benatia is too good to turn down.
The Giallorossi only paid €13.5m for Benatia last summer and that deal now looks like a remarkable piece of business, as Chelsea wait for a response over their offer to pay a whopping €38m to secure his services before the start of the season.
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