Chelsea are prepared to target Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the summer transfer market, in the event that Eden Hazard is sold to Real Madrid.
According to Diario Sport, the Belgian winger is being heavily linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, as newly returned boss Zinedine Zidane plots a major squad overhaul.
The Blues are reluctant to lose Hazard given their impending two-window transfer ban, which was issued after the club allegedly broke rules regarding signing minors from foreign clubs.
However, if their appeal on the ban is successful, Chelsea would be wise to cash in on their most prized asset, who could otherwise leave for free at the end of his contract in 2020.
Diario Sport reports that the club have prepared for this eventuality and identified Coutinho as the ideal replacement for Hazard, despite his frustrating campaign at the Camp Nou.
The Brazilian has failed to live up to expectations in La Liga since his lucrative move from Liverpool in January 2018, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele overshadowing him on the pitch.
However, Chelsea have seen first hand in the Premier League how devasting he can be at his best and if he could rediscover the kind of form he showed regularly at Liverpool, Coutinho is still a superstar capable of adding significant quality to any squad.
Transfermarkt states that the 26-year-old is currently valued at around £90 million, but such a large fee could be covered by any of the funds raised by the sale of Hazard – which would likely exceed that price.
As per Diario Sport, Paris Saint Germain are also very interested in Coutinho, but he has ruled out a transfer to Manchester United, due to his past links with their arch-rivals Liverpool.
Chelsea could be well placed to swoop for the Barcelona midfielder when the window reopens, but only if their legal woes subside long enough for them to submit an official bid.