Mario Pasalic's loan move away from Chelsea is expected to be completed this week. Spanish publication Estadio Deportivo says that Real Betis are still confident of luring the Croatian midfielder to La Liga, but the Blues want to tie him to a new deal before completing any move.
Pasalic, 22, joined the Premier League champions from Hajduk Split in the summer 2014 but is yet to make a single appearance for the club, having instead spent the last three campaigns on loan at Elche, Monaco and AC Milan.
Leeds United, Valencia, Spartak Moscow and Lazio have all been linked with his services in recent weeks after the Croatia international enjoyed a successful spell at the Serie A giants last season, scoring five goals in 27 games.
Yet, Estadio Deportivo reports Betis are in pole position to secure his services on loan after Pasalic already reached a "verbal agreement" with the La Liga side weeks ago.
Betis vice-chairman Lorenzo Serra Ferrer confirmed last week that they want the player to bolster their midfield ahead of the new season.
"He is one of the candidates. I can't deny what is obvious. Then, I can't go further on this, sorry," the Betis chief said in a press conference when asked about the Chelsea midfielder. "We want to bring more players in the midfield. You will understand that I cannot give more details about negotiations. Some are going on, close to an end, and some others are in standby. There will be more soon."
Estadio Deportivo believes that Betis will receive a final response from Chelsea this week as Antonio Conte wants to speed up the clearout of his squad before the Sunday's (6 August) Community Shield clash against Arsenal.
Indeed, on Monday Chelsea announced the transfer of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United after the Italian boss made clear the Serbian was not part of his plans by leaving him out of the pre-season tour to China and Singapore.
Conte is not looking to use Pasalic in the coming campaign but Estadio Deportivo claims that the Blues still have faith in his long-term future at Stamford Bridge. This would explain the delays in his departure as Chelsea are trying to tie him to a new deal before sending him out on loan.
Estadio Deportivo says the Premier League Champions thus offered Pasalic €2.5m-a-year deal to commit his future to Stamford Bridge for the next four campaigns.
Chelsea expect Pasalic to sign the new deal in the coming days and then send him to a new club, which would need to pay a big part of that wages.
The Blues have already used this formula with a number of loaness during the current transfer window, including Tomas Kalas (Fulham), Kurt Zouma (Stoke City), Tammy Abraham (Swansea City), Izzy Brown (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Mason Mount (Vitesse Arnhem).