The French manager feels the Serbia anchorman would be an ideal solution to his defensive midfield slot; however, Real president Florentino Perez has his heart set on a deal for Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko.
Both players will reportedly fetch the same transfer figure, with Zidane eager to secure a deal for Matic after watching him in close quarters during Los Blancos' clash with Chelsea during pre-season.
Matic has made his feelings clear on his current situation at Stamford Bridge, stating the arrival of Antonio Conte in west London has improved his morale and happiness ahead of the new season. Per Lopes, during the club's tour of the United States the 28-year-old was quoted as saying:
What he said gave me a special feeling. Like every player here, I have a good relationship with the manager. I respect what he said about me and, of course, I liked what I heard. It was a strange year for all of us last season. Of course, I was not happy that we finished 10th in the table but there were many things that made it hard for me, yet I can’t speak about it.
So it was important for me to know that I am a big part of his [Conte’s] plans. I have been at the club for two-and-a-half years and have always given my best every day. Until I’m here, I will continue to give everything to the team.
Matic suffered a significant drop in form and consistency last term as the Blues' title defence failed to materialise. Under then-boss Jose Mourinho, the former Benfica creative talent appeared unfit and low on confidence in possession.
With defensive responsibility in midfield placed solely on his shoulders, the towering Serb was unable to handle the task, and the Portuguese coach dropped him from the starting XI.
Football writer Graham MacAree hinted that Matic had aimed a sly dig at Mourinho's lack of professional playing experience in his recent quotes:
Graham MacAree @MacAree
Matic on Conte. Subtle! https://t.co/3lI8a9njsP2016-7-29 12:42:44
However, Conte handed the player a huge compliment at the start of his reign at the club, citing Matic as a key member of his first-team squad and not for sale. Under the watchful eye of his former employers Juventus, Conte batted away any interest in Matic from the reigning Serie A champions, according to the Sun's Justin Allen:
He’s a very important player, he’s very important in my idea of football. Nemanja knows this and I’m delighted by his attitude.
I see in him commitment. I know with work he can become a fantastic midfielder, one of the best in the world. He is not for sale.
The Daily Mail's Craig Hope stated the St. James' Park outfit were yet to receive any firm offers from interested suitors for France international Sissoko:
Craig Hope @CraigHope_DM
NUFC have had no officials bids for Moussa Sissoko & he is preparing for new season. Benitez open to keeping him.2016-8-4 12:10:11
Real will intend to tie up a deal for either player by the start of their La Liga campaign on August 21, when they take on Real Sociedad at Anoeta Stadium.
Chelsea to Hijack Arsenal Transfer Target?
Elsewhere, the Blues have joined the race to sign Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi in a deal worth £25 million, per the Daily Mail (h/t Mark Brus of Metro.co.uk).
London rivals Arsenal are in the market for a new centre-half, following Germany international Per Mertesacker's five-month layoff owing to injury, per Dominic King of MailOnline. However, the Stamford Bridge club have added the ex-Everton defender to their transfer shortlist after failed attempts to lure Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci and Kostas Manolas of Roma to the capital.
A priority signing for the Gunners, Arsene Wenger's side were reportedly in pole position to capture the 24-year-old German after some fine individual performances last season in La Liga.
However, after another frustrating summer window for Arsenal fans eager to see the club make significant waves in the transfer market, a swoop from Chelsea for Mustafi would further incite Wenger's doubters.