Incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has opened talks with Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan over becoming his first signing at Stamford Bridge. The current Italy coach has met with the Belgium international over a move to west London amid reports the club are ready to match Roma's valuation of the player.
The Evening Standard understand that after bids of £23m ($33.1m) and £25m plus £2.4m in add-ons were rejected, the Blues are preparing a third offer for the 28-year-old, which is likely to be closer to the £35m the Serie A giants are demanding. Roma are yet to find a replacement for the player, a factor that could prove crucial in a deal being struck imminently.
But despite a fee having not yet been agreed between the two clubs, Chelsea have made progress in bringing Nainggolan to the Premier League after the midfielder held talks with Conte over a move. Though the Italian coach is potentially breaking Fifa rules by approaching him, Nainggolan has high praise for Conte.
"We've talked. He already wanted me at Juventus, but I told him that I would never go there," said Nainggolan, accoridng to Sky Sports. "Now he's trying to convince me to go to Chelsea and we've had a chat about it. He's an interesting person. We'll see. I don't know.
"We'll just have to see what happens. Certainly Conte's a good coach – you could see that at Juve, where he won, and also at Siena. He's told me what he expects of me and what type of a player I could be for him."
Nainggolan may not become Conte's first signing at Chelsea however, with the club also pursuing another player from Italy in the form of Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Talks over a new deal for the defender have collapsed and the 24-year-old expects to be in touch with Conte in the near future.
"Big clubs want to sign me and there is no sign of a renewal with Napoli," he told L'Equipe, according to Talksport. "The negotiations for a contract extension have stalled and they never wanted to discuss with us. I have not talked to [Conte] but that may be soon.
"If nothing happens at Napoli, I will start to have contact with other clubs. The game In England could be suitable for me but I like Italy, I do not press for a transfer but I hope to sign a renewal with Napoli or we proceed to other solutions."