Chelsea's latest transfer news surrounds the uncertain future of goalkeeper Petr Cech. The veteran stopper may avoid playing second fiddle to returning loan star Thibaut Courtois and seal a move to Real Madrid.
Speaking of Los Blancos, latest reports suggest the Blues still haven't abandoned hope of capturing their midfield linchpin Sami Khedira. Boss Jose Mourinho is also still courting the idea of adding another centre-back to his defensive ranks.
Here's a more in-depth look at the rumours, beginning with Cech:
Chelsea Want Raphael Varane for Cech
Real Madrid are certainly keen on Petr Cech. The 10-time European Cup winners remain unsatisfied with Iker Casillas.
However, the Blues will demand a steep price to part with their outstanding 'keeper. That price will be young centre-back Raphael Varane, per Daily Express reporter Tony Banks:
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, Cech's manager at Chelsea for two years until 2011, wants to capitalise on his old club's goalkeeping dilemma to take Cech to Spain on the cheap.
Real have made preliminary enquiries about Cech but will face competition from both Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.
Chelsea could use Cech as bait to persuade Real to sell them French central defender Raphael Varane, a player Mourinho has been targeting all season.
If Real boss Ancelotti is seeking a cost-effective move for Cech, he's hardly likely to part with Varane as part of the deal. The Frenchman is one of the best young players in the game at his position.
Chelsea could make room for him, although the club has already acquired one precocious French defender in the form of Kurt Zouma. It seems more realistic to assume Mourinho will widen his search for another centre-back.
Chelsea Enter Competition for Mehdi Benatia
If he does looks elsewhere for extra defensive resources, it seems Mourinho will target AS Roma star Mehdi Benatia. The Chelsea boss intends to provide strong competition for fellow interested party Manchester United, according to Daily Express writer Anthony Chapman:
Having lost David Luiz to Paris St-Germain, Jose Mourinho is keen to secure an experienced centre-back as he plots a loan move for youngster Kurt Zouma, and the Portuguese tactician believes Benatia is the right man for the job.
Mourinho had previously expressed interest in signing Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, who now looks to be heading to Manchester City to link up with former team-mate Fernando, and the Chelsea boss is ready to rival Van Gaal with a £30million bid of his own.
This one is a little tough to grasp. While it's understandable Mourinho might want additional cover behind John Terry and Gary Cahill, it's difficult to imagine he'll pay £30 million for the privilege.
Benatia is certainly a competent defender, but his arrival would surely hasten the end of Terry's stint as a a first-team player. It would also stand in the way of Zouma's development.
By signing full-back Filipe Luis this summer, Mourinho has also freed versatile veteran Branislav Ivanovic to spend more time at centre-back. It's probably safe to assume Chelsea will hold off on signing a £30 million-rated defender in this window.
Chelsea Have Held Talks with Khedira
One player Mourinho is almost certainly prepared to wait for is German international midfield ace Sami Khedira. Mourinho, who worked with Khedira at Real Madrid, has even talked with the player over a possible move next summer, per Sport (h/t Ben Green of 101 Great Goals):
Khedira, according to Sport, has been talking with three Premier League clubs this summer: Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea.
There have been suggestions that Jose Mourinho has urged Khedira to sit out his deal at Real Madrid and join Chelsea on a bumper contract next summer.
Mourinho is obviously a fan of Khedira. However, it's not easy working out where this powerful runner would fit in a midfield that already houses Ramires, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas.
Of course, Chelsea haven't usually had a problem stockpiling talent at various positions during the era of owner Roman Abramovich. If the Khedira news goes quiet in this window, don't be surprised if he's had his head turned by the possibility of showing up at Stamford Bridge next summer.
There's ample reason to skeptical about the latest rumours involving Chelsea. In terms of Cech's situation, perhaps the club could afford to lose him after giving Mark Schwarzer a new contract, per Sky Sports reporter Pete O'Rourke.
However, Mourinho has previously stated that he expects Cech and Courtois to compete for the job, according to Daily Mail writer Hamish Mackay (h/t Sky Sports). Meanwhile, Benatia seems like an expensive luxury at this point.
Of the latest rumours, a move to tie up a deal for Khedira next summer seems the most likely.