Chelsea have rejected a £50milion offer from Barcelona for Brazilian midfielder Willian.
Despite winning the league and cup double last season, Barca have concerns that their squad still lacks greater quality in depth and attacking flair, particularly following their shock Champions League defeat by Roma.
The Spanish side see the skilful 29-year-old as a playmaker who can add an extra dimension to their attack following the departure of Andres Iniesta and want him to link up with compatriot Philippe Coutinho.
Willian’s representatives have been in Barcelona and the lure of the Spanish giants will be tempting but Chelsea have so far shown no willingness to sell.
Long-term admirers Manchester United are waiting in the wings and have also posted an interest.
It is understood, United would be willing to offer even more to secure a player their manager Jose Mourinho rates highly.
WILLIAN IN 2017-18
Premier League – 36 games, six goals, eight assists
Champions League – Eight games, three goals, three assists
FA Cup – Six games, two goals, one assist
EFL Cup – Four games, two goals
Community Shield – One game
Total – 55 games, 13 goals, 12 assists.
Indeed, United made overtures to sign Willian in January but Chelsea resisted despite Antonio Conte preferring to use him predominantly as an impact player.
Willian still managed to score 13 goals last season and was arguably Chelsea’s stand out player when they played Barcelona in the Champions League.
He is a popular figure at Stamford Bridge, is under contract until 2020, and the club would be reluctant to lose him, but he turns 30 in August and a greater offer could prove harder to resist as they look to reduce the age of their squad.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have opened talks over a move for 22-year-old CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin and also want Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund.