Chelsea have reportedly tabled an eye-watering £60m offer for Real Madrid forward James Rodriguez as Antonio Conte looks to step up his attempts to strengthen the squad he inherited from Guus Hiddink this summer.
The Italian last week hit out at the “crazy” state of the transfer market with English clubs expected to pay a premium for new talent in light of the £5.4bn television deal which is sweeping across the domestic game.
The Sunday Express report that Conte has switched his focus to Rodriguez after learning first-choice target Romelu Lukaku is ready to commit his future to Ronald Koeman’s Everton. Columbian international Rodriguez has been subject to interest from Arsenal and Manchester United and is believed to be intrigued by a move to the Premier League.
Everton manager Koeman, meanwhile, has confirmed that the Merseyside club have convinced striker Lukaku to remain at Goodison Park for “at least one more season” despite interest from Chelsea.
The Belgian came on as a second-half substitute during the 2-1 away victory against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and will now remain with Koeman’s men – possibly even agreeing fresh terms. “It's great news for everybody,” said Koeman after Everton took their points tally up to four at the Hawthornes.
Asked if he might be offered a new deal, Koeman said: “That's possible.” Lukaku scored 16 goals on loan at Goodison three seasons ago before completing a club-record £28m switch from Chelsea the following summer.
In the two campaigns since, he has scored 25 and 20 goals respectively for the Toffees. Elsewhere, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is optimistic of luring Southampton defender Jose Fonte to Old Trafford after watching his side blow the Saints away on Friday night.
The 32-year-old has been offered a new contract at St Mary’s which would make him the best payed player in Claude Puel’s squad but the South Coast club are allegedly becoming resigned to losing the Portugal defender.
The Guardian suggest Mourinho hopes Fonte can help tutor new £30m signing Eric Bailly while also providing competition to the likes of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind at the back.
Leicester City, on the other hand, are also looking for defensive cover and could switch their focus back to Dynamo Kiev’s Aleksandar Dragovic after missing out on Burnley centre-back Michael Keane this summer.
Claudio Ranieri, the champions’ manager, is reported by the Sunday Mirror to have given up on his attempts to sign Keane after a succession of failed bids to land the 23-year-old.
An offer of £15m is understood to have been rejected by the Lancashire outfit in recent weeks. The Leicester boss has already signed Luis Hernandez from Sporting Gijon on a free transfer to support Wes Morgan and Rob Huth, both of whom played invaluable roles in the East Midlands club’s remarkable title success last season.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies