Chelsea are preparing a surprise summer move for Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy after Jose Mourinho identified the Championship stopper as a potential replacement for Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge this summer.
According to a Daily Star exclusive by chief football writer David Woods, the Portuguese coach is a huge admirer of the Canaries ace and is keen to bring him to west London to act as an understudy to first-choice custodian Thibaut Courtois next season.
The Blues tried to sign the 28-year-old in the summer of 2013 when Norwich were still in the Premier League, but they turned down an offer of £5 million and the former England international stayed at Carrow Road.
Ruddy still has two years to run on his existing contract with the Norfolk-based club, but would prefer to return to the top-flight sooner rather than later.
Of course, there's still a chance that he could do that with Alex Neil's side this season, providing they can get past local rivals Ipswich Town in their play-off semi-final second leg on Saturday, following last weekend's 1-1 draw in the first leg encounter.
If they're successful then the Canaries will face a Wembley showdown with the winner of Brentford versus Middlesbrough for a place back in the country's elite division.
Promotion will strengthen Norwich's chances of keeping hold of Ruddy for at least one more season, as he will be guaranteed regular first-team action in the Premier League at Carrow Road, compared to the bit-part role that inevitably awaits him at Chelsea.
That lack of senior action is what's forced veteran keeper Cech to consider a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer. At this stage of his career he wants to be playing as many games as possible and is unwilling to settle for a watching brief from the substitutes' bench.
It's not yet clear where the Czech Republic international will be playing next season, although it looks increasingly likely that his future will be served away from the club he has served with such distinction since signing from Rennes in 2004.
Chelsea fans: Would you be happy with the acquisition of John Ruddy to replace Petr Cech next season? Or do you think Jose Mourinho should target a higher-profile goalkeeper? Have your say below...
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