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:
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.”
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.
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:
Mangala 31m & Luiz 50m...how much would Varane cost with these valuations at the moment ??! 60-70m??— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) August 12, 2014
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:
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea ready to spend €38m for Roma's Mehdi Benatia, easily best defender last season in Serie A. Via @Gazzetta_it— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) August 11, 2014
@HLNinEngeland Frankly that’s cheap for Benatia— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) August 11, 2014
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.
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.