Incoming Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is reportedly targeting Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos this summer, setting up a transfer battle with Manchester United.
According to The Express, Conte has already outlined his transfer strategy after visiting the club’s training ground last week, with a top central defender likely to be near the forefront of his plans.
With John Terry set to leave the club at the end of the season with his contract expiring in July, Conte could be forced into identifying a successor for the defensive stalwart, although it is still possible that the former England captain figures in the Italian’s plans.
All will be revealed when Conte arrives at Stamford Bridge after Euro 2016, but with question marks also surrounding Branislav Ivanovic’s future, as noted by Corriere dello Sport, the centre of his defence will likely be a key area for strengthening.
Meanwhile, Ramos was targeted by United last summer, but a deal wasn’t reached between the two clubs as the Spanish international remained at the Bernabeu.
Whether or not the Red Devils reignite their interest in him remains to be seen, but if they do so, they could now face added competition from their Premier League rivals.
The 30-year-old is arguably a perfect signing for Chelsea, as he has the flexibility to play in a back four or a three-man defence, the latter of which is a system that Conte has adopted in the past on a regular basis with Juventus and Italy.
It is unclear if he plans to apply the same formation at Stamford Bridge, but Ramos is versatile enough to give him that option moving forward.
In contrast, it wouldn’t address the requirement to find a long-term successor for Terry or Ivanovic, given that Ramos is already 30.
While there is no denying his talent and influence for club and country in recent years, Chelsea should arguably be looking elsewhere for a more youthful option that they can build around for years to come.