Chelsea are willing to sanction the sale of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United – but only if the latter drop their interest in long-term Blues target Radja Nainggolan.
That is according to the Daily Record, who have claimed that Matic’s reported £35m transfer to Old Trafford is being held up as Antonio Conte seeks assurances from counterpart Jose Mourinho about waving his apparent interest in the in-demand Roma midfielder.
Mourinho is keen to be reunited with Matic after he managed the Serbia international during his second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, and views the towering midfield enforcer as the solution that will allow Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba to hurt opposing teams higher up the pitch knowing full well that Matic will be protecting the defence behind them.
However, Chelsea will only allow the 28-year-old to depart London for the North West of England if they are successful in landing £35m-rated Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco and Nainggolan from I Giallorossi this summer.
Conte has become frustrated at the lack of progress shown by Chelsea’s board over transfer targets in the close season, and is believed to have held extensive talks with owner Roman Abramovich in a bid to speed up the acquistion of his desired new arrivals.
Bakayoko’s move across the English channel is edging closer to completion, but a deal for Nainggolan is still some way off as Roma dig their heels in over their prized asset.
Mourinho interested in the brilliant Radja Nainggolan. GdS saying €40-45m + €7.5m a season wage could be deciding factor from United.
— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) June 27, 2017
The Belgium international has consistently been linked with a switch to the Premier League champions – rumours that even stretched back to Mourinho’s days in charge – and that speculation has increased once again over the past week as the Blues look to finally sign him.
Other media reports have suggested, though, that United are also in the offing for the 29-year-old, and are weighing up a £40m offer to lure Nainggolan to Manchester instead.
Such a move threatens to throw a spanner in the works of Mourinho bringing Matic in, with Chelsea extremely likely to end negotiations over that possible deal if they are beaten to the punch over Nainggolan by the Europa League winners.
A game of cat and mouse will no doubt ensue between the two English top flight heavyweights before a compromise is reached, but the frosty relationship between Conte and Mourinho will continue long after this saga has ended.