Chelsea are considering a move in signing Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson as Antonio Conte eyes the centre-back as a long-term replacement for John Terry. The Blues captain has less than six months left on his contract and has seen his playing time limited after the arrival of the Italian manager.
According to the Mirror, Terry has already rejected a loan approach from AFC Bournemouth as he wants to continue with his current employers until the end of the season. The west London club are leading the Premier League table and the 36-year-old remains hopeful he can play a role in helping his side win the fifth Premier League title.
The former England international is not willing to leave Stamford Bridge in January as he is not willing to play for another English club. He is set for a move to China after the end of the current campaign.
Terry's situation has forced the former Juventus manager to identify a player to replace him at Chelsea. Conte has set his sights on Gibson, who has impressed for Boro after they sealed a promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough have already rebuffed Chelsea's initial approach and the capital club are aware that they need a bid in excess of £30m ($36.5m) in bringing one of the most sought-out defenders in the Premier League to the Bridge.
Conte prefers to play with three players at the back and is currently using David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta in the 3-4-3 formation. He has Terry and Kurt Zouma as two other options after the France international recovered from his long-term injury. The Blues want to bring in a replacement for Terry and Middlesbrough's Gibson has emerged as the number one target for the league leaders.