Chelsea are ready to go head-to-head with Bayern Munich in the battle to sign Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij.
The Premier League leaders are reportedly set to lock horns with the German giants in a bid to snatch the centre-half away from the Serie A club, according to Il Tempo (via the Sun), after he told Lazio of his desire to leave.
De Vrij’s current contract with the Rome-based outfit is due to expire in 18 months’ time, and he is alleged to have told Lazio’s hierarchy that he does not intend to pen a new contract, to remain in Italy, even if the club’s representatives insist on holding talks about extending his stay.
His apparent desire to leave is believed to have alerted Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who is in the market for a new defender despite his side’s impressive solidity at the back in recent months, but the Italian boss faces competition from compatriot Carlo Ancelotti, who also harbours hopes of signing the Netherlands international for the Bundesliga club.
The Blues have conceded a miserly two goals in their last 12 Premier League matches – a run that has seen them win all 12 of those encounters to set a new club record – as Conte’s switch to a 3-5-2 formation has reaped dividends for the current English top flight title pace setters.
Despite their steely resolve in defence, Conte is reportedly keen on bolstering his options at the back, and ball-playing defender de Vrij is now seen as one of the ex-Juventus boss’ primary candidates ahead of the January transfer window.
Bayern, meanwhile, want to provide competition for place among their own defensive options, with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels currently seen as the club’s best centre back pairing. The addition of de Vrij would certainly lead to the duo not being able to rest on their laurels, particularly in the wake of Bayern’s defensive issues at points throughout the season.
Il Tempo claims that de Vrij apparently has no preference over which club he would wish to join, and that any decision is likely to be based on which side can offer the most significant amount of cash.
De Vrij has made over 50 appearances for Lazio since a July 2014 move from Feyenoord.
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