Chelsea have reportedly made tentative enquiries with regards to signing Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng as they seek alternatives for Virgil van Dijk, who is valued at £50m ($64m) by Southampton.
Van Dijk, who is also a target for Liverpool and Arsenal, remains the newly crowned Premier League champions' main priority, but they are worried about being out priced owing to the Saints' hefty demands in terms of their valuation of the player.
According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea have sounded out the German defenders camp as Antonio Conte looks to add depth to his defence ahead of next season. The report states that Boateng is fearful of his long-term future at Bayern after they completed the signing of Hoffenheim centre-back Niklas Sule earlier in the year.
Chelsea will lose John Terry in the summer after the club declined to give the 36-year-old a new deal, while there is uncertainty surrounding the futures of back up defenders Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma. The former is wanted by Bournemouth on a permanent deal after failing to break into the Chelsea first-team, while the latter is wanted on loan by Marseille after he struggled for game time this season following a return from long-term injury.
Boateng struggled for game time with the German champions this season making only 13 appearances in the Bundesliga. The former Manchester City defender struggled with injury midway through the campaign, but managed just six appearances following his return to action in March.
The arrival of Sule from Hoffenheim could further endanger his place in the starting lineup as Carlo Ancelotti could decide to pair the new signing with Mats Hummels as the first choice centre-back pairing. Boateng revealed recently that he had no plans to leave the Bavarian giants, but refused to commit his future as he was not happy with his limited playing time last season.
"I don't have anything else planned. There's only a few clubs in the world with the appeal and tradition of Bayern Munich," Boateng told SportsBild as quoted by the Daily Mail.
"I didn't play much so it's normal that I'm not entirely happy. Now I've just picked up this unfortunate injury against Freiburg. I'll use the off-season to be fit to begin preparations for the new season," he added.