Antonio Conte has reportedly told Chelsea board to step up the pursuit of the versatile winger. Manchester United have also been linked with the Barcelona star in recent days but Sport says that the Italian manager is pressing his club to get the Spaniard’s signature after having identified him as an “ideal” fit for his 3-5-2 formation.
Chelsea’s interest in the Spanish international were first reported by ESPN last month.
Earlier this week Mundo Deportivo claimed that Manchester United had joined race by launching a €40m (£36.1m, $46.9m) offer which matches Sergi Roberto’s release clause at Barcelona.
The offer was rejected but it appears to have put Conte on red alert as Sport is now claiming that the Italian boss is demanding his board to step up the pursuit in order to not miss another target.
Indeed, the Italian manager is said to be frustrated with Chelsea’s summer transfer window dealings having seen other targets such as Danilo or Romelu Lukaku joining respectively Manchester City and United – two of his biggest rivals in his quest to defend the Premier League title.
Sport says that the Chelsea manager believes that the versatile Barcelona star will be a perfect fit to continue the revamp of his squad, having already made four signing in striker Alvaro Morata, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, goalkeeper Willy Caballero and defender Antonio Rudiger.
Conte is desperately looking to bolster the middle of the park after Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah and Nemanja Matic have all left Stamford Bridge this summer to join Crystal Palace [on loan], Watford and Manchester United respectively.
Yet, he also wants a wing-back to compete with Victor Moses for a starting role and the Barcelona star seems to be a perfect choice to cover both positions due to his versatility.
The 25-year-old star was originally a midfielder but established himself as the first-choice right-back during the last campaign under Luis Enrique following the departure of Dani Alves to Juventus.
Sport suggests that the Chelsea board are not convinced about his signing but could fulfil the demands of Conte if the Blues struggle at the start to the season, having already lost the Community Shield to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Barcelona are likely to want to keep him but will be powerless to retain the player if either Chelsea or United meet his €40m release clause and convince the player to make the move.
Sport says that Sergi Roberto’s priority would be to stay at Barcelona but he may still be tempted to change his plans after having failed to start a single game under new manager Ernesto Valverde’s during the Catalan’s pre-season.