Chelsea Transfer News: Latest on Mehdi Benatia and Raphael Varane Pursuits

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2014

RIETI, ITALY - JULY 18:  Mehdi Benatia of Roma before the friendly match between AS Roma and Indonesia U23 at Stadio Centro d'Italia - Manlio Scopigno on July 18, 2014 in Rieti, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho already boasts a fine selection of centre-back talent at Stamford Bridge, but Mehdi Benatia is tipped to bolster that selection by joining the west London club.

Following John Terry's recent decision to pen a new one-year deal at the club, Mourinho has his leading man in central defence, but David Woods of the Daily Star writes that a £30 million deal for Roma's Benatia is close:

Benatia, 27, is also being chased by Manchester United, but Chelsea are ready to seal the deal this week ahead of their first game at Burnley on Monday.


Chelsea will have to sell at least one foreign player if they sign Benatia, because they will have exceeded their allowed quota under Premier League rules.

Since moving to the Italian capital from Udinese last year, Benatia's reputation as an elite defender has only been enhanced further, leading to continued interest in his services.

However, Roma boss Rudi Garcia remains relaxed on the matter and this weekend spoke of Benatia's commitment to the Giallorossi cause, per Football Italia“As far as I can see he has a four-year contract and that’s all that needs to be said.”

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 22:  Mehdi Benatia of AS Roma celebrates after scoring the third team's goal during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Calcio Catania at Stadio Olimpico on December 22, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and young Kurt Zouma's talents mean that centre-back is no dire concern for Mourinho, but the departure of David Luiz to Paris does leave a space in the squad.

Tony Banks of the Daily Express adds that Benatia has become a priority target for Mourinho after he was rejected in his advances for former Real Madrid charge Raphael Varane.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 30: Raphael Varane of France looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria at Estadio Nacional on June 30, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The French international evidently left an impression on Mourinho during their time together at the Bernabeu. Queens Park Rangers centre-back Rio Ferdinand is a fan of Varane's, too, it seems:

At 21 years of age, compared to Benatia's 27, Varane certainly represents a stronger asset in terms of long-term value, but Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti seems all too aware of the talent he currently possesses.

The youngster is already a prominent face in Madrid, but it's expected his duties will become all the more senior as Pepe's starting status diminishes.

That being said, Benatia may yet come as a valuable option for Chelsea, with Serie A specialists Matteo Bonetti and James Horncastle of beIN Sports and ESPN, respectively, giving rave reviews of the Moroccan:

Roma won't be eager to sell on the cusp of the new campaign, a season in which they will sense their chance to dethrone Juventus from their Scudetto perch.

BERGAMO, ITALY - DECEMBER 01:  Mehdi Benatia of AS Roma in action during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and AS Roma at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on December 1, 2013 in Bergamo, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

With little more than a fortnight remaining in the summer transfer window, clubs are entering their most desperate phases to both bring in but also retain top talent.

That being the case, Roma will be on high alert to ensure Benatia is still their man come Sept. 1, but the allure of Stamford Bridge has a magnetism all of its own.