Chelsea are focusing their transfer efforts on AC Milan centre-back Alessio Romagnoli after growing frustrated in their pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly.
Antonio Conte is desperate to bring in reinforcements before the transfer windows closes next week and the need for signings was highlighted again in last night’s EFL Cup win.
The Blues survived a second-half fightback by League One outfit Bristol Rovers at Stamford Bridge as their defensive frailties resurfaced in west London.
A long-term replacement is still needed for club stalwart John Terry and Koulibaly had been Conte’s first-choice for the position.
Chelsea have pursued the Senegal international aggressively and have not given up on signing him from Napoli but hopes are fading fast after seeing several offers rejected.
Instead, Conte is now leaning towards Milan’s Italy U21s star Romagnoli and are due to test the Serie A giant’s resolve with an offer worth £30million plus add-ons on Wednesday.
The Blues are likely to have to increase that bid though given the Italians are not looking to sell and paid Roma £21million for the defender just last summer.
"If you look now at our squad, we have only five defenders - four that started today and an academy player Ola Aina," Conte said on Saturday.
"Ola is very good - he has great potential - but with any young player you must work to put them in the first team. Sure, he has a good future.
"If one defender is injured or banned, then we are in trouble, but the club and me we know this and we are talking every day to improve the squad.”
Romagnoli made 34 starts for Milan last season and his impressive performances at the San Siro saw him compared with legendary Azzurri centre-half Alessandro Nesta.
The transfer window closes next Wednesday night.