Chelsea are hoping Kevin De Bruyne may give them the edge over Arsenal in the race to sign Schalke sensation Julian Draxler this winter as part of a player-plus-cash deal.
It's understood Draxler is frustrated with life at the Veltins-Arena having been fielded almost exclusively on the wing thus far in the campaign, while fellow club starlet Max Meyer has occupied his favoured No. 10 role.
Similarly, De Bruyne has found recent times tough at Stamford Bridge, making just four starts across all competitions this term, not appearing in the English top flight since late September.
Draxler was quoted voicing his desires to play for a bigger club in the future and, per Lustig's report, the Miners remain firm on their starlet's £40 million buyout clause:
I’m telling you honestly that my dream is to play for one of the big clubs at some point. If you want to achieve the big goals, which every world class player has, you have to play at the biggest clubs.
These are Real, Barca, [Manchester] United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
These are undoubtedly similar views to those Belgian De Bruyne once held before making his big move to Chelsea from Racing Genk, but things haven't gone according to plan.
The transfer would be a strange one considering Draxler is eager to play more centrally. German magazine Kicker (h/t Joe Krishnan of the London Evening Standard) quotes the 20-year-old saying: "I have now resigned myself to the fact that I am not welcome in the number 10 position here at Schalke. I am still convinced to be as dangerous just outside the centre. Even though I perhaps am the only one who thinks this."
Though De Bruyne is also capable of playing through the middle, the pair aren't quite a like-for-like swap in that sense. Considering even Juan Mata has struggled to earn a spot in the Blues' lineup due to the form of Brazilian Oscar, it's hard to think where Draxler would fit in among Chelsea's already-stacked squad.
That being said, Schalke could stand to come out the better of the two were such a deal to go through.
In De Bruyne, they have a ready-and-waiting replacement in their creative ranks, and one who proved himself in the Bundesliga last season, scoring 10 goals and making nine assists while on loan with Werder Bremen, per Transfermarkt.co.uk.
To heighten speculation further, Schalke were mentioned by Patrick de Koster, the 22-year-old's agent, as being one of five Bundesliga clubs interested in his client when he spoke to German newspaper Express (h/t ESPN's Stephan Uersfeld):
I will fly to London next week to find a solution with Chelsea. Should Kevin be allowed to leave, I will call [Bayer Leverkusen squad manager] Michael Reschke within 30 minutes. We have an excellent relationship.
Dortmund, Gladbach, Schalke and Wolfsburg have also been in touch with me. Kevin will take a look at where is best for him.
On top of that, any financial benefits coming their way as a part of Draxler's transfer fee wouldn't go astray for a side currently off the top-four pace in the German top flight and in need of some fresh faces.
Two men very much in demand this winter, De Bruyne and Draxler could yet go on to have a leading hand in how the transfer window shapes up at Stamford Bridge this January.