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Chelsea switch focus to another Serie A defender as top target’s price-tag rises past £45m

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s frustrating search for a new central defender looks set to continue as he’s reportedly turned his attention elsewhere again.

The Italian tactician has seemingly made signing a new defender a priority this summer as he continues to look at ways of strengthening his squad.

According to The Mirror, the Premier League giants were told that they would have spend over £45m to land Napoli ace Kalidou Koulibaly, which in turn has forced them to consider other options.

That search appears to have taken them to the Italian capital according to The Mirror, with Lazio defender Stefan De Vrij emerging on their transfer radar.

The 24-year-old is said to be available for around £15m, which is certainly a shock considering the Dutchman’s injury problems over the past year.

Having missed almost all of last season with a serious knee injury, De Vrij returned to action in a pre-season friendly this summer, but it remains to be seen whether or not he has put his issues behind him and can now stay fit.

The Dutch international arrived from Feyenoord in 2014 and signed a contract until 2018, and in Chelsea’s defence, provided that the speculation is true, he did impress initially after moving to Serie A.

However, the injury woes are a concern and so the Blues will have to consider the move carefully and ensure that De Vrij is ready to play a consistent role in their progress next season before splashing out.

Chelsea have secured the future of John Terry after offering him an extension earlier this summer, while Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma will hope to establish themselves as the first-choice pairing.

Should Conte bring in a defender though, it will see the Italian almost rebuild the spine of the team having already brought in N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi already this summer.

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