Chelsea have been linked with a summer bid for Partizan Belgrade winger Lazar Markovic. The Mirror believes the 19-year-old full international is close to signing for the Blues, who could use the Serbian as the front man for a large scale revamp of the first team.
The Europa League champions will welcome former boss Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge for the new season, after the Portuguese was relieved of his duties with Real Madrid. And Chelsea's technical director, Michael Emenalo, is eager to complete this deal as soon as possible.
Markovic was linked to Chelsea earlier this year as well, following an admission from the player that he'd visited Stamford Bridge and "met people" from the club. However, he stressed the visit was personal: he'd gone to see international team mate Branislav Ivanovic.
"I also met people from Chelsea, but it is not true that I have signed anything yet or something like that. There is no contract, not a even a pre-contract," Markovic told Sportski Zurnal.
The youngster has, however, admitted to a desire to play in the Premier League and although he did not specify the interested clubs, hinted at the possibility of a summer transfer. He explained: "A lot of people say that maybe I'm not suited to the English league. But I can tell you that I love the Premier League and I see it as an ideal stage for me."
The Blues could have to contend with interest from Arsenal and Inter Milan in this case. The Gunners were linked to Markovic late last year but were then believed to have fallen behind the Nerazzurri in the race. And just to complicate matters, Spanish sides Barcelona and Sevilla were also mentioned.
The good news for Blues fans, though, is Markovic admitted a preference for the west London side. Speaking to The Sun in 2011, the teen explained that a move to Chelsea would be "my dream".
"I really hope I can go to Chelsea, it's my dream. I'm told there were 20 scouts from all over Europe in the VIP box when we beat Red Star. But Chelsea is the place I want to play. I had all the pictures of the team on my wall at home back to when they had Gianfranco Zola," he added.