Chelsea have been boosted in their efforts to sign long-term transfer targets Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman in a double swoop on Everton, with their man rivals for the midfield marvel Manchester City dropping out of the race.
City think Everton's £50m valuation of Barkley is ridiculous and are planning to turn their attention to other targets, with the Daily Star reporting that Chelsea are now the only side serious about landing the young playmaker next summer.
Throw in reported interest from Blues boss Jose Mourinho in a £20m deal for Coleman and Chelsea are in pole position to rip apart one of their Premier League rivals in a £70m double swoop, hoping that their good relationship with Everton will stop Man United or anyone else gatecrashing the party when they do eventually table a formal bid.
Everton definitely have a tough task on their hands to keep Barkley happy and developing at Goodison Park, with the dynamic midfielder probably the best talent to emerge on Merseyside since Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene a decade ago.
The 20-year-old has been tracked closely by practically every top Premier League team, but Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has insisted he'll pay no attention to the speculation and wants Barkley as the linchpin of his long-term plans.
Everton have backed that strong stance and slapped a hefty £50m asking price on the midfielder's head, but if Chelsea are truly willing to pay the same money they spent on Fernando Torres to get their man he'll surely be moving to Stamford Bridge next summer.
Coleman on the move too?
The case of Coleman is an entirely different one for Everton, a player who is integral to their system but has seen strong form lead to links with clubs that can offer Champions League football.
Coleman is under contract with Everton until 2019 and only signed that deal in June, but nonetheless is believed to have told friends he'd relish the chance to play for United if the opportunity arose.
Mourinho is believed to be eyeing a long-term replacement for Chelsea stalwart Branislav Ivanovic and Coleman's terrific mix of pace, energy and power in possession make him the perfect fit, so expect Martinez to be fielding plenty more questions about two of his key men over the next six months and beyond.
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