Chelsea in advanced talks to sign £31m midfielder ahead of Nicolo Barella

Chelsea have advanced discussions with Zenit over a deal for Leandro Paredes, according to reports in Italy.

Maurizio Sarri has urged the club to sign a new central midfielder this month with Cesc Fabregas set to join Monaco.

Cagliari’s Nicolo Barella is on Chelsea’s shortlist and the 21-year-old has been contacted by Gianfranco Zola about a potential move to Stamford Bridge.

But Sportitalia report that Chelsea’s hierarchy are unwilling to spend €45 million (£40.6m) on Barella as they also need a significant part of their budget to sign a new striker during the January transfer window.

It’s claimed that Chelsea are now progressing talks with Zenit over a move for Paredes and the strong relationship between the two clubs could play a key factor in discussions.

Paredes, who joined Zenit from Roma in the summer of 2017, is valued at €35m (£31.5m) by the Russian club.

Chelsea also face competition from AC Milan for Paredes after the Serie A club missed out on signing Fabregas.

Chelsea are continuing with their efforts to sign a new striker and earlier this week, reports in Spain claimed that Gonzalo Higuain has agreed a move to Stamford Bridge.

However, a transfer fee has not yet been agreed and Chelsea’s hierarchy are reportedly having second thoughts about potentially spending around €40m (£36m) on a player who turned 31 in December.

Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy are viewed as alternative options.

Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata’s agent has held talks with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla over a possible loan move this month, but Chelsea will not approve his exit until a replacement is signed.

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