The battle to sign prolific Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham on a season-long loan deal had previously been thought of as an exclusively two-horse race between newly-promoted rivals Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion, yet now it appears that a third contender has emerged.
According to Dutch publication De Telegraaf, Vitesse Arnhem, who have a close working relationship with the Premier League champions and have loaned several of their young players over recent years, are targeting both Abraham and highly-rated midfielder Mason Mount this summer.
The Eredivisie outfit lifted their maiden major trophy in 2016-17 - the KNVB Cup - with the help of four Chelsea loanees in Matt Miazga, Lewis Baker, Nathan and Mukhtar Ali. They have hosted over 20 Blues hopefuls in total since 2010, including the likes of Nemanja Matic, Dominic Solanke, Izzy Brown, Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu and Bertrand Traore.
"With Chelsea we are working together with great pleasure, we have announced our wishes and are fully conversant," Vitesse general director Joost de Wit told De Telegraaf. "It is clear that we want a strong, broad selection next season. Also with a view to European matches."
Abraham replicated his prolific youth form at senior level last term, firing 26 goals in 48 appearances across all competitions for Championship strugglers Bristol City. Such an impressive maiden stint away from Stamford Bridge has inevitably led to Premier League interest, with both Newcastle and Brighton having offered to take him for the season.
Although the Magpies were said to be in pole position to land the £25,000-a-week striker who is expected to agree an improved contract with Chelsea, such a saga is becoming increasingly drawn-out. An undecided Abraham, who says he hopes to play in the English top-flight, has now confirmed that discussions regarding his future will likely take place after the European Under-21 Championships in Poland.
Speaking to The Argus this week, Brighton chief executive Paul Barber insisted that the 19-year-old was far from the club's only target as they continue to play the waiting game. Vitesse, meanwhile, recently sold top scorer and cup final hero Ricky van Wolfswinkel to FC Basel and are also chasing Samuel Armenteros of Heracles Almelo.
"It is no secret he is a player of interest to us," Barber said. "There is a lot of competition for Tammy. He is a terrific talent and fine young player. But we don't just have a single player on our list. We have a cluster of players of the same quality and that is how we work. This whole transfer window, as always, is very much a waiting game. People have to be patient."