Stamford Bridge side set sights on Goodison Park star.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is set to enter the race to sign Everton left-back Leighton Baines and in the process potentially hijack Man United’s long running pursuit of the England international.
CaughtOffside understands that Goodison Park chairman Bill Kenwright will fight tooth and nail to prevent Baines from following former boss David Moyes to Old Trafford and as such could opt to accept offers from other interested parties, especially if the presence of alternative prospective suitors were to lead to a bidding war for the 28 year old.
Chelsea have tied down veteran Ashley Cole to a one year contract extension but Mourinho is known to be a fan of former Wigan Athletic man Baines and is ready to make an offer of around £17m for the Everton man, a bid in excess of any offer already made by Man United.
Baines is four years younger than Cole and is arguably a player capable of making more of a rounded impact at Chelsea, with the Everton man not only being strong defensively but it also adept at making an impact going forward. The set-piece specialist can always be relied upon to provide a bucket-load of assists and also nets a fair few goals to boot.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich is ready to bankroll Mourinho’s push to conduct major alterations to a Chelsea squad that has fallen way off the Premier League pace and the chance to beat rivals Man United to the signing of Baines could be seen as a major statement of intent from a side that followed up a famous Champions League triumph by crashing out of the showpiece tournament at the group stages in 2012/13.
Baines is keen to wrestle Ashley Cole for a more prominent role in Roy Hodgson’s England national team set-up, especially with the 2014 World Cup Finals now less than a year away, and a move to replace the former Arsenal man in the Blues first team could well interest the Everton man.