Chelsea are set to make a move for Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez in January after completing the signing of Ross Barkley from Everton quite early into the transfer window. Manager Antonio Conte is keen to strengthen his squad in this window after falling behind in the race for the Premier League title and also has a Champions League clash against Barcelona to contend with next month.
The Sun reports that Chelsea have emerged as surprise contenders for the Algerian's signature with Conte aiming for more than one player in this window. However, they will face competition from Arsenal and Liverpool for his signature.
Arsenal have identified Mahrez as a like-for-like replacement for Alexis Sanchez, who has entered the last six months of his contract at the Emirates. Manchester City were close to signing the Chile international in the summer but a move fell through as the Gunners failed to sign a replacement.
The Citizens were initially hoping to sign Sanchez on a free next summer, but interest from Paris Saint-Germain and their lack of options up front has urged Guardiola to think over a move in January, which could force Arsene Wenger's hand when it comes to Mahrez.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have identified the player as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, who is reported to be on his way to Barcelona in this window. According to Spanish publication Sport, the negotiations are at an advanced stage and the player's lawyers are currently in Barcelona looking over the contract on offer.
Barcelona failed with three bids in the summer despite Coutinho handing in a transfer request, but the Spanish club has not backed down and are ready with a fresh offer. The Catalan giants are reportedly willing to meet Liverpool's asking price of €160m (£141m), including add-ons.
However, much will depend on Leicester's inclination to sell, with manager Claude Puel insisting Mahrez is happy to continue with his current employers.
"I want to keep all my best players and Riyad is an important player in the team for us. When I discussed things with him, he had a good attitude and is enjoying his football," Puel explained.
"He is a happy player and likes to play with his teammates. His statistics have improved, with assists and scoring. Of course, I want him to continue all this good work.
"He is happy with the squad. It is speculation, but for me, it is no problem. He is happy to play with this team, he enjoys his football and this is the most important thing."