It's been confirmed Chelsea have opened talks with Paris Saint-Germain winger Ezequiel Lavezzi, but the Blues will have to fend off steep competition from Inter and Barcelona if they're to land their target.
Alessandro Moggi works with the 30-year-old's agent, Alejandro Mazzoni, and he told Italian outlet Mediaset that Inter are currently leading the chase for Lavezzi, who could move for a cut-price figure this month (h/t Football Italia): "Inter are the most interested team at the moment. There was interest from Barcelona and Chelsea, and we’re talking with the Blues. I can’t rule out him only leaving Paris at the end of the season though, as Paris Saint-Germain have expressed an interest in keeping him."
Lavezzi looks increasingly likely to depart Parc des Princes in 2016, with his contract poised to expire this summer, but PSG may be tempted into selling for a fee this month if the price is right.
Moggi made sure to note Lavezzi may yet see out the remainder of his deal in Paris and leave the French capital for free this summer, although he is now open to pen a pre-contract agreement.
The former Napoli ace has tumbled down the PSG pecking order under manager Laurent Blanc this season, with the summer arrival of Angel Di Maria condemning him to just three Ligue 1 starts in 16 appearances.
With that lack of playing time in mind, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson recently ruled out any chance of Lavezzi extending his stay at the club, with no long-term prospects in sight:
Despite simmering off the boil during the latter phases of his three-and-a-half years at PSG, Lavezzi was a hit throughout his five-year stay at Napoli, and Inter would be hopeful of reviving the form of an old Serie A star.
Speaking to French outlet Le10Sport earlier in January, agent Mazzoni proclaimed Italy was his client's "preferred destination," noting that Juventus have also been interested (h/t Goal's David Manuca): "Inter and Juventus? We don't know anything yet, but it could all happen very quickly. Italy is his preferred destination, but there is absolutely no hurry. The interest of big clubs is normal when they can get a player like Lavezzi for free."
It would appear Chelsea's best chance of signing Lavezzi is to offer a cash payment in January, and Metro's Will Giles reported the attacker "could be available for as little as £4.5 million."
Two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Eden Hazard is yet to hit top form this season, but when asked if the winger needed "an arm around his shoulder," interim manager Guus Hiddink was unsympathetic, per Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard:
I'm not his mother, they get proper attention. They all have an individual approach. One needs a lash, another needs an arm.
Another one needs to be pinched a bit. It's different but we give him time to come back to his level.
For me it's about freshness. If your mind is fresh and players are eager to step up and enjoy training that's a signal of freshness. He has won trophies but this season he has had some physical problems. Yesterday was the Ballon d'Or and you see the freshness of the players who win the Ballon d'Or - they are playing like youngsters.
That's what we are aiming for with him. He has to enjoy it and get rid of the physical problems then he will come into his normal shape.
The Blues can ill afford to carry on waiting for Hazard to rediscover his peak performance levels, and a move for Lavezzi in January could prove to be a low-cost fix for the problem.
Despite failing to fit in at star-studded PSG of late, the Argentina international could still be an asset at the elite level, but Inter, currently third in Serie A and two points off leaders Napoli, look to be leading the chase.