Chelsea’s search for defensive reinforcements appears to be going down to the wire after the Blues were dealt a further transfer blow last night.

We revealed Antonio Conte had turned his attention to AC Milan centre-half Alessio Romagnoli on Wednesday after growing frustrated with Napoli over Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Blues made the Italy Under-21 international their top priority after it became apparent that Koulibaly’s asking price was rising to levels beyond their valuation of the Senegalese.

However, Milan publicly rejected Chelsea’s bid on for Romagnoli on Thursday evening to leave Conte scratching his head with the closure of the transfer window looming large.

The bid for Romagnoli was understood to have been worth £30million plus £4million in add-ons and was described by the Serie A side as being significant.

Milan also used their announcement to dismiss any suggestions of their prized-asset leaving later in the window by stating the player is not for sale.

But does that really close the door on a potential move for the Italian? If so, where do Chelsea go from here as the August 31 transfer deadline nears?

Let’s take a look at the situation closely…

Is the Romagnoli deal dead?

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Despite AC Milan’s public hands-off warning for their young star, there is nothing to stop Chelsea returning with an improved bid.

Milan would never publicly encourage offers for a highly-rated player currently under contract at their club but every asset has its price and footballers are no different.

Conte has spoken of being quoted ‘crazy’ prices for targets during the window and is reluctant to pay over the odds.

But with less than a week before the deadline, not to mention only four fit senior defenders on the books for this weekend’s fixture, Chelsea are getting desperate.

Reports suggest Conte wants a couple of new faces at the back and there is certainly scope in the Stamford Bridge transfer kitty to return to the negotiating table with Milan.

An offer worth at least £40million plus add-ons could be needed to sign Romagnoli but that would still represent decent value for a player with his best years still ahead of him.

What about another bid for Koulibaly?

Top defender: Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly looks on

Chelsea are now focusing their efforts elsewhere after becoming frustrated with the Koulibaly transfer saga.

Formalising their interest in Romagnoli was a clear signal that the Blues have decided to focus their efforts on other targets.

Several offers were submitted for Koulibaly and he had been at the top of Conte’s wish-list this summer.

However, Napoli’s £60million asking price for the defender is too high for Chelsea’s liking and the player is not forcing through a switch despite yearning for a move to England.

Should Chelsea fail with their new targets, which could happen after seeing their opening Romagnoli bid rejected, they may yet revisit the Koulibaly deal.

Who else is on the transfer radar?

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Torino’s £25 million-rated defender Nikola Maksimovic is itching for a move this summer and is another option for Chelsea.

The Serbian, touted as the new Nemanja Vidic, went on strike at this clubs and would represent the simplest deal to close.

However, Napoli are also interested in signing the centre-back and would provide competition for the Blues with plenty of cash from Gonzalo Higuain’s transfer to spend.

Conte would ideally like to add to defenders to the Blues ranks before Wednesday night’s deadline though and is also considering signing a full back.

Fiorentina's Marcos Alonso, Wolfsburg left back Ricardo Rodriguez, valued at £17million, and Stephan Lichtsteiner are two names to have been mentioned.

Signing a full-back could help ease the burden with Branislav Ivanovic then able to operate centrally when required.

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