Chelsea fear they have lost the race to land John Stones in the summer, as Pep Guardiola appears most likely to make the England defender the first signing of his rain at Manchester City in a deal that could be worth £45m.
Chelsea made a bid of £38m for Stones last summer, but was flatly rejected by Everton, and City now look increasingly likely to secure the services of the young central defender for an additional £7m.
With Stones now looking out of reach, Chelsea are now actively scouting several other centre halves and have even considered a move for Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann.
Palace would be likely to ask for £20m given that Dann signed a new five-year contract last summer but at 29 years old, Chelsea would not pay that amount for a player with no re-sell value so the fee would have to come down if Chelsea were to pursue their interest.
The Premier League champions meanwhile will continue their recruitment drive for next season despite not yet having a substantive manager.
Italy manager Antonio Conte is confident he will be appointed but sources close to the negotiations say that if Diego Simeone expressed a desire to come, that situation could yet change.
However, the Atletico Madrid manager looks likely to stay at the club at which he has had so much success, making Conte the favourite to take over from interim manager Guus Hiddink.
And while Conte would push for signing Paris St Germain striker Edinson Cavani and also wants Italian defenders Giorgio Chiellini, 31, and Leonardo Bonucci, 28, their ages and contractual situations at Juve – they have deals to 2018 and 2020 respectively – make those two defenders difficult targets
City meanwhile are facing disappointment in their attempts to recruit Sergio Busquets from Barcelona, with the Catalan player now pressing Barca to open contact talks, with both sides expecting a new deal to be concluded in the summer.