Jose Mourinho not interested in signing Mehdi Benatia

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Jose Mourinho has moved to deny reports suggesting Mehdi Benatia is on the verge of a move to Chelsea.

The AS Roma centre-back has been widely linked with a move to the Premier League this summer with Manchester United and Arsenal accredited with an interest. Chelsea seemed best placed to win the race after reportedly agreeing a £30 million fee with the Serie A outfit.

No deal

However, Mourinho has confirmed that there is no truth in those reports, saying that he has no need for a player like Benatia. His current crop of defenders will suffice for the season ahead.

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He told reporters: “We’re not interested. We have Cahill, Ivanovic and Zouma.

“We also want to integrate Christiansen into the first team with calm, who will train with us and also play some minutes in the League when it is possible.

“He will normally play with the youth team, but he will train with the first team.

“I think we are fine as we are, we are well set in defence.”

The reported deal

Several of Britain's biggest tabloids ran the story that Benatia could sign for Chelsea by the end of the week and could even make his debut against Burnley on Monday evening. 

Mourinho had confirmed last month that his transfer business for the summer was done. No one would be surprised if that turned out to be false, but it appears another £30 million addition was too much of a stretch for Chelsea's finances.

Manchester United interest

The news will come as a timely boost to Louis van Gaal, who has so far struggled to spend his bulging transfer budget at Old Trafford. Only Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have been brought in this summer, both arriving before Van Gaal took over.

The likes of Thomas Vermaelen, who joined Barcelona, and Arturo Vidal, who seems disinterested, have been pursued but not persuaded to join the fallen Premier League champions. With the season set to start in days, the situation in defence is becoming critical.

Van Gaal is planning on playing three centre-backs against Swansea but only has three to choose from in Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Widely regarded as the best defender in Serie A, signing Benatia would go some way to alleviating the problem.

With Chelsea dropping out of the race it leaves Manchester United with a clear run to sign him. However, Roma have been determined to keep the defender with AS Roma director Walter Sabatini claiming only a bid of £49.6m would convince him to sell.

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