Chelsea have opened talks with on-loan striker Patrick Bamford over a new and improved contract as reward for an impressive season-long spell with Championship promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough.
The 21-year-old has been in fine form for Aitor Karanka's side and has contributed 17 goals in the Teeside club's charge towards the Premier League. His burgeoning reputation as an up-and-coming star of the future has been heightened over the past few months.
Bamford currently earns around £7,500-a-week, which is a small fraction of what most established first-team stars take home at Stamford Bridge. Jose Mourinho is planning to bring the England U21 international's salary a little closer to the team-mates he could well be playing alongside next season, according to the Daily Mail.
With just over 12 months remaining on his existing deal the Blues are eager to tie down the marksman's long-term future, and are aware his eye-catching displays in the second tier are probably starting to attract attention from rival suitors.
There's already been speculation that the former Nottingham Forest ace could stay at the Riverside Stadium next season, but that is likely to depend on the outcome of Boro's bid to make the step up to the top-flight.
They are currently sitting in third in the table - just two points behind leaders Bournemouth - thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over play-off rivals Wolves on Tuesday night.
Bamford played an integral part in securing all three points after scoring one and creating the other for Jelle Vossen, as attention quickly turns to the top-of-the-table clash against second-placed Norwich City at Carrow Road on Friday evening.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Tim Sherwood has also expressed an interest in taking the Chelsea ace on loan next season after Aston Villa scouts returned favourable reports having seen him score against Rotherham last weekend.
A switch to Villa Park could see Bamford paired in attack with in-form Belgian talisman Christian Benteke, which could prove to be a useful experience in the next stage of the youngster's ongoing development.
Regular first-team opportunities will likely be difficult to come by in west London next term, particularly with Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Didier Drogba all still on the books at Chelsea.
Mourinho will not want to stall the Englishman's progress and so will probably let him leave on a temporary deal again once his future has been sorted, similar to the way that Romelu Lukaku was allowed to depart before quitting the club permanently last summer.
Chelsea fans: Are you pleased to see Jose Mourinho investing in youth at Stamford Bridge? Do you think Patrick Bamford has what it takes to make a senior breakthrough at the club? Share your thoughts below…
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