CHELSEA have an advantage over transfer rivals AC Milan in the race for Barcelona outcast Denis Suarez.
Blues bosses are eager to bolster their midfield options and head coach Maurizio Sarri is a fan of Suarez, 24.
Serie A giants Milan fancy a loan arrangement with an option to buy at the end of the season.
Barcelona, however, prefer a straight-forward cash deal next month.
According to the Daily Express, that gives Chelsea a clear lead in the £45m transfer battle.
Suarez is eager to leave Barcelona after failing to win a regular spot in Ernesto Valverde’s starting XI.
He has made only two appearances in all competitions this season, and is yet to feature in La Liga.
Suarez is in his second stint at Barcelona following an initial move to the club from Manchester City in 2013.
The one-cap Spain international is under contract at the Nou Camp until the summer of 2020.
ESPN pundit Paul Mariner, who played for Arsenal in the 1980s, believes Suarez would only be a rotation option for Chelsea if he were to join.
“Sarri’s had him on his radar for a long time,” Mariner said.
“When he was at Napoli he tried to sign him a couple of times.
“I don’t know why they need another midfield player. It looks as if they’re flushed in there.
“Maybe he just wants to get him in for cover.
“Sarri knows about him way more than I do.
“I just don’t see how he’s going to get playing time.
“I don’t see it (happening), I’m sorry, no.”