Edin Dzeko is set to start for AS Roma in their next Serie A clash against Sampdoria on Wednesday night (24 January) despite suggestions that he is closing in on a return to the Premier League with Chelsea.
With rumours that Emerson Palmieri has agreed a four-year contract at Stamford Bridge in a deal that will lead to Kenedy finally heading to Newcastle United on loan, Dzeko is expected to become the second Giallorossi player to join the Blues before next week's transfer deadline.
According to the Evening Standard, Chelsea are prepared to relinquish their established policy of not offering fees or anything longer than one-year deals to players over 30 and present the former Manchester City forward, who will turn 32 in March, with a two-and-a-half year contract worth approximately £101,000-a-week ($141,284) after he indicated that he was not prepared to sign a shorter-term agreement.
The publication states that could cause potential problems when negotiating extensions with the trio of David Luiz, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas, all of whom are over 30 and out of contract in 2019.
Chelsea are eager to seal a £44m double transfer for Emerson and Dzeko, who would provide competition for first-choice forward Alvaro Morata with current deputy Michy Batshuayi having largely flattered to deceive under Antonio Conte and reportedly not wanted by Roma in a possible part-exchange deal.
Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco was reluctant to address the intense transfer speculation surrounding the club at present during a press conference held in advance of the trip to Sampdoria, although confirmed that Dzeko was in line to feature from the first whistle at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
"As things stand at the moment, he will (start)," he said, per the Press Association. "Obviously I'm going to have to assess things and see what frame of mind he's in. I'll speak to him about it.
"I have to make sure everyone is ready for it – including the players whose names are in the papers. As things stand, all the players who are here are available for this hugely important match we have to play in 36 hours' time."
Dzeko won two Premier League titles and one FA Cup during his four-and-a-half year stint at City between 2011-15 and initially joined Roma on a season-long loan deal before making the move permanent and notching a club-record 39 goals in just 51 appearances during a prolific 2016-17 campaign.
This term, Bosnia and Herzegovina's all-time leading scorer and 2017 Ballon d'Or nominee, currently under contract until 2020, has notched 12 times in 27 outings including a six-minute second-half brace in the thrilling 3-3 Champions League draw against Chelsea in October.
Dzeko would be ineligible for the knockout stages of European football's premier club competition if indeed he did secure a switch to west London by the 31 January deadline.