Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez has been allowed to leave the Algeria squad to "formalise" a transfer before Thursday's deadline, and Chelsea have reportedly had a £45 million bid for the player accepted.
After some confusion, it appears Chelsea are in pole position to recruit Mahrez after beIN Sports (h/t Joe Short of the Daily Express) reported they've had a £45 million offer for his signature accepted.
It's said the Foxes winger will head to London for a medical prior to sealing a last-gasp summer move to Stamford Bridge.
Per BBC Sport's article, AS Roma have had three bids rejected for Mahrez already this summer, while Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea have also been linked.
According to BBC Sport's David Ornstein, Arsenal will not pursue the 26-year-old:
David Ornstein @bbcsport_david
The club Riyad Mahrez has left the Algeria squad to sign for is... not Arsenal. #AFC are not in contention for the #LCFC winger #bbcfootball2017-8-31 07:06:05
According to Juan Jimenez of AS, Barcelona have "accelerated talks over a switch to the Camp Nou." Meanwhile, according to Neil Custis and John Hutchinson in The Sun, Chelsea are the big favourites to land the winger in a £45 million switch.
Despite this, there have yet to be any fresh offers from anywhere for the player, according to Sky Sports News:
Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews
BREAKING: @LCFC have received no new bids for Riyad Mahrez - Sky sources #DeadlineDay #SSN https://t.co/tcvxnieINx2017-8-31 07:36:00
In the statement, it's noted that Mahrez "was authorised by national coach Lucas Alcaraz and the Algerian Football Federation to make an express trip to Europe to formalise on Thursday his transfer to his new club" with the team to travel to Zambia without him for Saturday's 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Mahrez emerged as one of the most exciting players in the Premier League in 2015-16, as he was sensational for the Foxes in their surprise title triumph.
The Algeria international finished the campaign with an impressive 17 goals and 11 assists, as well as the PFA Player of the Year award. He wasn't as effective last season as Leicester struggled, though Mahrez still turned in some dazzling performances in the UEFA Champions League.
While he handed in a transfer request in May, Mahrez has featured in all three games for the Foxes in the Premier League this season.
Journalist Kristan Heneage praised the winger's attitude in the early stages of the season:
Kristan Heneage @KHeneage
This would kill me if I was a Leicester fan. Saying that, Mahrez hasn't let the speculation impact his game and he's played well for #LCFC. https://t.co/WDRZH7VNxy2017-8-31 01:26:49
However, the Daily Mirror’s John Cross doesn't believe he would be a particularly good signing:
John Cross @johncrossmirror
@DarrenArsenal1 @fkhanage Absolutely. If a club signs him now, they're desperate.2017-8-31 05:51:11
Although there are reportedly no bids on the table for Mahrez, it is no surprise so many top clubs are linked.
At full flight, he is a wonderful player to have in the squad. Drifting infield from the right flank, Mahrez is so difficult to pick up. On the ball he has incredible balance, wonderful composure and tends to make good decisions in the final third.
If he can capture the form he showcased a couple of seasons ago, then whichever club does end up with Mahrez will have a fantastic attacking threat on their hands.