Chelsea are reportedly considering a move in signing Nice star Jean-Michael Seri as Antonio Conte looks to strengthen his midfielder in the January transfer window.
The Premier League winners have already completed the signing of England international Ross Barkley, who arrived at Stamford Bridge from Everton on a £15m ($20.7m) deal. And the former Juventus manager is now looking to bring in another player in the midfield position this month.
According to The Sun, Conte is unhappy with Tiemoue Bakayoko's performance since joining Chelsea from AS Monaco last summer as the France international has failed to replicate his Ligue 1 form for the west London club so far this season.
In November 2017, Conte stressed that Bakayoko has a "lot of space for improvement" suggesting that the former Monaco man still needs time to settle in England.
"Don't forget Bakayoko is a player very young. He's only 22 years old. And for many reasons, he played a lot of games. I think he needs to improve, under the tactical aspect with us and to go into our idea of football. But, for sure, he has a lot of space for improvement," Conte said.
Chelsea will test Nice's resolve by making an approach for Seri before the transfer window shuts. The Sun report, however, also claims that the French club are keen on to keep their star player.
Seri's stay at Nice runs down in 2021 and has a £35m release clause in his contract. His relatively lower price tag in the current market makes it difficult for his employers to retain the player if they receive a bid.
The 26-year-old's impressive form for Nice has seen him attract interest from Chelsea. However, Conte's side are not the only club looking to secure his services in the ongoing window. The Blues' league rivals Manchester City are also in the race for his signature along with Paris Saint-Germain.
Seri has been identified as a target for the Premier League leaders as Pep Guardiola believes the Ivory Coast international can replace his compatriot Yaya Toure at the Etihad. PSG are also hoping to bring him to Parc des Princes.
A move to the Ligue 1 leaders is unlikely as the report claims the midfielder is keen on completing a switch to England. This means that Chelsea's only competitor for Seri's signature will be the Manchester club.
Seri was a transfer target for Barcelona in the last summer transfer window. The deal did not take shape after the two club's failure to reach an agreement. The midfielder stressed a failure to seal a transfer did not destabilise him.
"I turned the page after August 31. When you do not go, you belong to a club and you have to give everything to them. Missing out on a transfer has not destabilised me," Seri explained in September 2017, as quoted by Goal.com.
The African star has maintained his form in the first half of the season, despite Nice managing only nine wins in 21 league games. Lucien Favre's side are sixth in the league table with 31 points, trailing league leaders PSG by 25 points.
Chelsea will go head-to-head with City in signing Seri in the January transfer window. His £35m buyout clause should not be an issue for the Blues as they look to help Conte by adding the second midfielder to the squad this month.