Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is expected to be a busy man in the January transfer market, and speculation on Wednesday has backed that theory.
The Blues are flying high at the top of the Premier League table after an eight-game winning streak, but Conte will be keen to assess his options in the transfer market in January and strengthen where possible to maintain their momentum.
Key areas of the squad arguably still need strength in depth, and it appears as though the Italian tactician is preparing to act in the New Year.
According to The Sun, Chelsea are in the race to sign Real Madrid ace Isco, although they face stiff competition from domestic rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.
As per UEFA.com, the Spanish international was signed by Los Blancos for €30m from Malaga in 2013, but has constantly struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular.
In turn, it has consistently led to speculation over his future, with the Sun suggesting that the Premier League trio are monitoring his situation with his contract set to expire in 2018.
With a lack of depth in midfield beyond N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, the move would make sense for Chelsea but it remains to be seen whether or not Conte lands his reported target.
Elsewhere, John Obi Mikel has been linked with a big-money move to China to reunite with former boss Andre Villas-Boas, according to the Evening Standard.
The 29-year-old, who has been at Stamford Bridge since 2006, is set to see his current deal expire at the end of the season, and as noted in the report, he has been informed that he won’t be offered an extension.
In turn, he has to consider his options away from west London, and it’s claimed that Shanghai SIPG have already made inquiries about a January move.
The Chinese Super League outfit are said to be willing to pay a ‘nominal fee’ in order to fast-track the deal, with a £170,000-a-week offer said to be on the table for the Nigerian international.
Meanwhile, as noted by The Independent, Conte is also keen to reinforce his defence in January and both Middlesbrough centre-half Ben Gibson and Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam have been targeted by the former Juventus and Italy boss.
Chelsea will need to splash out £35m on Gibson, as per the report, while Ghoulam is set to be offered a new contract by Napoli in order to fend off interest from the Blues.
As a result, it remains to be seen how successful Conte is in bolstering his defensive line as he eyes big additions in January.