Chelsea eye Barcelona target as long-term Cesc Fabregas replacement

Chelsea are preparing to rival Barcelona for the signature of exciting Brazilian midfielder Arthur, according to reports.

The 21-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to the Nou Camp, with comparisons already being made with Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Arthur was pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt and standing alongside a representative of the Spanish club last week.

Despite that, a deal has not been reached. The player himself said: ‘On the Barcelona matter, they did speak with me. We had a meeting, but I want to say that there’s nothing final.

‘Nothing has been defined and I did not sign anything. I am a Gremio player.’

The contact with Barcelona has angered Gremio, which could open the door to Chelsea.

According to The Mirror, the Premier League champions are interested in the midfielder, seeing him as a long-term replacement for Cesc Fabregas.

Arthur has a £44million release clause which makes the Gremio star a viable option – possibly as early as the January transfer window.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 08: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea indicates to the fans they need to win one more game after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Middlesbrough at Stamford Bridge on May 8, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill – AMA/Getty Images)

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is known to want to bolster his squad at the earliest opportunity.

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