Conte transfer plans rocked as Chelsea see £23m bid rejected for key target

Chelsea have reportedly suffered a setback in their initial attempt to land a key Antonio Conte target.

According to The Guardian, Roma have rejected an offer of £23m plus performance-related bonuses for Belgian international Radja Nainggolan, who is Conte’s priority midfield signing this summer.

The Guardian adds that Roma president James Pallotta wants at least £32m for Nainggolan, but would rather not sell at all and has recently signalled his intention to keep both him and Miralem Pjanic.

“I have already said that we will not sell Pjanic and Nainggolan,” Pallotta is quoted by The Guardian as telling Gazzetta dello Sport at the weekend: “I would like to see them continue playing for Roma.”

Nainggolan has made 107 appearances in two seasons with Roma since joining from Cagliari, scoring 13 goals, and is expected to be a key player for highly-fancied Belgium at Euro 2016 this summer.

The 28-year-old is a regular under Marc Wilmots, often getting selected ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Mousa Dembele, who has arguably been one of the best midfielders in the Premier League this season.

They may have been rebuffed initially, but Chelsea are likely to return with a second bid for the Roma star as they aim to arm incoming boss Conte with the squad he wants to make them a force again.

Midfield could be a weak link for the Blues. Nemanja Matic is struggling for form, John Obi Mikel is getting on, Ramires left in January and Cesc Fabregas is too lightweight to play in front of the back four.

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