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Chelsea Transfer News: Casemiro Targeted by Blues, Latest Isco Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY:  Casemiro, #14 of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid CF and SSC Napoli at  Santiago Bernabeu on February 15, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images)
Sonia Canada/Getty Images

Chelsea have reportedly joined Manchester United in monitoring the situation of Casemiro at Real Madrid. The Premier League rivals are said to be aware of the Brazilian holding midfielder's demand for a bigger contract to stay in the Spanish capital.

Chelsea are ready to make a move if Casemiro's demands aren't met, according to Spanish source Diario Gol (h/t Metro's Mark Brus): "Chelsea are taking a look at Casemiro’s contract situation at Real and could try to lure him to Stamford Bridge in the near future."

Brus' report also detailed how Chelsea manager Antonio Conte remains keen to add to his defensive midfield ranks, despite already having ample talent at the position. Dual destroyers Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante have formed the backbone of the Blues squad running away with this season's English title.

Chelsea are 11 points clear after beating Swansea City 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. It was a game in which Kante was at his typically destructive best, with numbers from Squawka Football summing up his impressive performance:

Squawka Football @Squawka

N'Golo Kante's game by numbers vs. Swansea: 94% pass accuracy 5 tackles won 2 interceptions 1 clearance 1 block Immense again. https://t.co/e0dpPhvdPi

Kante has been the catalyst for Chelsea's title charge, but he's also benefited from the calming influence of Matic. The latter's defensive discipline allows the ultra-energetic Kante to go and press the opposition all over the pitch.

Matic has also displayed his own creative instincts this season, supplying six assists in league action, per WhoScored.com. With holding players this good at his disposal, it's surprising Conte would want to add to the position.

However, as Brus noted, the manager "still fancies another big-name addition in that area after a seeming lack of faith in the likes of Cesc Fabregas."

If Conte is determined to sign a new defensive midfielder, he won't find a better one than Casemiro. The 25-year-old South American proved invaluable in helping Los Merengues win the UEFA Champions League last season.

Casemiro's positional sense, discipline, defensive instincts and sure tackling make him a natural and effective counterpoint to pass masters Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Real possess the most balanced midfield on the Continent whenever this trio is roaming the middle.

Casemiro is the understated yet essential member of Real's midfield. It's why he wants more money, and also why Chelsea aren't the only club interested in signing him.

United were recently linked by TransfermarketWeb (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) with a possible move for the player who could be seen as the ideal replacement for veteran Michael Carrick.

However, Chelsea would be wise to beat their league rivals to any deal for a player who would make an already formidable midfield all the more imposing.

Chelsea Challenged by Manchester City for Isco

Casemiro isn't the only Real midfielder the Blues are said to be keen on. Chelsea reportedly also want Spanish playmaker Isco but face strong competition from Manchester City.

Spanish publication Marca (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star) has reported Chelsea have even already discussed a deal with Isco's representatives. Matters are complicated, though, thanks to City's interest.

A report from Spanish source Sport (h/t Wood) identified City and manager Pep Guardiola as favourites to sign Isco this summer.

Conte and Guardiola are reportedly set to compete for Isco's signature.
Conte and Guardiola are reportedly set to compete for Isco's signature.James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Interest in the 24-year-old schemer makes some sense for Conte and Chelsea. The Blues are long on brawn and defensive nous in midfield but could perhaps use some greater craft and flair.

Conte has Cesc Fabregas to play between the lines, but Isco is younger and boasts more versatility. The one-time Malaga sensation can also play on the flanks or behind a striker thanks to his eye for goal.

Chelsea don't play the kind of possession-based game Isco would be used to, something which wouldn't be an issue for him under Guardiola at City. However, the west Londoners do rely on rapid and intricate passing on the break.

It's the type of approach a player with Isco's speed and quality could thrive in.

Conte's squad is also likely to need more goals from midfield next season, when the club will be dealing with a return to the Champions League and the extra fixtures it brings.

An inflated schedule is why it makes sense for Conte to beef up his midfield ranks this summer. If Los Blancos are content to let two talented players walk, Chelsea shouldn't waste time moving in for Casemiro and Isco.

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