Chelsea are reportedly preparing a bid to scupper Manchester City's chances of signing Mehdi Benatia from AS Roma by offering £18m plus Romelu Lukaku during the upcoming transfer window.
The Daily Express claims that the Blues' manager Jose Mourinho wants to prevent the defender from moving to the Etihad and will do everything possible to come out on top. Earlier reports suggested that Manuel Pellegrini's side had agreed personal terms with Benatia by offering him wages close to £60,000 per week.
However, City are yet to arrive at an agreement with his employers to complete the move and Chelsea are looking to take advantage and persuade the 27-year-old to move to Stamford Bridge instead.
The Moroccan international, who made the switch from Udinese by signing a five-year deal with Rudi Garcia's side last summer, rejected the new contract offer that increased his wages to £45,000 per week.
"I never said I want to leave. But Roma have not kept their promises. They had told me that they would make me a new contract offer if I had a great season. But I have received an unacceptable proposal, less than €3 million per season. I replied that I would not sign it," Benatia explained.
Goal.com claims that the reigning Premier League champions are submitting a £25m bid for Benatia and are ready to offer him £90,000-a-week. However, Chelsea's offer £18m plus Lukaku, valued at £20m, might force City's owners to spend at least £38m to acquire the defender's services.
The Belgian international reportedly is not a part of Mourinho's plans for the upcoming campaign and the former Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss is willing to allow the 21-year-old striker to leave the west London club.
The Portuguese tactician is thought to be taking a dip in the market for a new centre-back to replace David Luiz. The former Benfica star joined the Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain for a reported £50m fee.
Benatia, who was once believed to be a target for Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, remains unsure about where he could be plying his trade in the future, claiming that he deserves more 'respect' from his current employers.
"I'm in love with Rome, I'm very fine here but my mistake was to be too correct with the club and too honest. My agent is doing his job, I could leave but I could also stay and finish my career at Roma. But I was disappointed [with the new wage offer], I deserved more respect," Benatia stressed.