Chelsea will be among the front-runners for Gareth Bale's signature if Real Madrid decide to cash in, according to reports on Thursday.
Speculation continues to link the Welshman with an unlikely move away from the Bernabeu. According to Tuttomercatoweb (h/t Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express), Chelsea are "looking at the availability" of the player whose first-team place is under threat from the likes of Isco and James Rodriguez.
This link arrives despite Bale's agent rubbishing rumours of a potential exit. David Manasseh, one of the Madrid man's representatives, called recent rumours of a switch to Manchester United "absolute rubbish" and "not true," as reported by CalcioMercato (h/t Ed Malyon of the Daily Mirror).
Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti recently outlined Bale as "one of the most important players in this squad," according to AS (h/t Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC). Bale has been linked to United by Chapman, but it seems Madrid are extremely unlikely to get rid of the £85 million man they signed during the summer of 2013.
Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus is touted as an alternative by Marca, per by 101 Great Goals:
Similar to stories linking Chelsea with Bale, the side's rumoured hunt of Madrid defender Raphael Varane appears unlikely to become fruitful. David Wright of the Express suggested £19 million would be enough to snag the centre-back, but the youngster recently released comments which suggest he is looking to remain in the Spanish capital.
"We want to make history with this team," said Varane, when acknowledging Madrid's quest to become the first side to successfully defend their Champions League crown, as reported by Pablo Polo of Marca.
Mourinho once named Varane the "best central defender in the world" and was the man to sign the Frenchman to Madrid, perhaps intensifying these rumours. It appears he will have to look elsewhere for reinforcements, however, as Varane's availability and suggested pricetag appears too good to be true.
Athletic Bilbao's Aymeric Laporte could represent an alternative option for the Stamford Bridge side, according to Alex Harris of the Daily Star. The 20-year-old is a constant feature of the Basque team's lineup and continues to show maturity beyond his years in the heart of Bilbao's defence.
Like Varane, he could contribute right away and dramatically improve across coming seasons. Laporte's qualities are highlighted below:
It will be interesting to see which areas of his squad Mourinho looks to improve. Chelsea are currently unbeaten in the Premier League and four points clear of closest contenders Southampton, who have an extremely difficult run to Christmas.
Should the Blues remain without defeat when the new year arrives, Mourinho's need to spend may be questioned.
His squad is remarkably well-rounded, adaptable and possesses enough quality to compete across all competitions. Investments must be smart, particularly with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules continuing to lurk.