Chelsea set for £85m splurge on defensive duo as Antonio Conte looks to bolster his options

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Chelsea are reportedly considering two big moves to strengthen their backline with ex-defender Ryan Bertrand and Virgil van Dijk on their radar.

With Antonio Conte on course to deliver a Premier League title in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, he’ll have to plan ahead for the club’s return to the Champions League.

While the likes of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have done exceptional jobs this season, Chelsea will need more depth and quality to cope with the busier fixture list.

In turn, the Evening Standard report that Bertrand is a target, just under two years after leaving the club for £10m to join Southampton.

While he has flourished with regular playing time with the Saints, there’s no denying that his progress and style of play make him a perfect signing for his former club, but it’s added in the report that he won’t be available for anything less than £25m.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are also reportedly keen on his teammate Van Dijk, who has established himself as one of the top defenders in the English top flight since his move from Celtic.

Southampton have a recent history of selling their best players to rivals in the Premier League, and it would be a surprise to see the trend bucked on this occasion.

In December, it was claimed that they placed a £60m price-tag on the Dutchman, as reported by The Telegraph, in a move to try and fend off interest from other clubs.

With no suggestion that they are ready to waver from that figure since, it will take a serious investment from Chelsea to prise him away from St Mary’s. However, with Conte preferring a three-man defence, he’ll need more options alongside Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz.

Liverpool and Manchester City are noted as strong competition by the Standard, but given their vast improvement this season under Conte and their guarantee of being able to compete for multiple trophies next season, Chelsea would seem like the most sensible choice at this stage.

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