Highly rated Roma defender Mehdi Benatia, who has been linked with Manchester United and Manchester City, prefers a move to Chelsea, according to reports from Italy.
The 27-year-old is one of the most sought after defenders in Europe, with several European heavyweights are vying for his signature.
The Moroccan international has turned down contract extension offers from Roma this season and sets his heart out on moving elsewhere, with Premier League his preferred destination.
Manchester United need to replenish the void left by Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and were linked with Benatia on numerous occasions in the past few months. It remains to be seen whether new manager Louis van Gaal goes for him at all, with reports suggest, the Dutchman is more interested in luring Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund.
Earlier this month, we reported that Roma had rejected an offer from Bayern Munich, as they felt the offer was low for consideration.
Roma’s Director of Football Walter Sabatini claimed that the club will try his best to hold on to Benatia. He said:
“He is not for sale. I believe that Mehdi has been influenced by his agent (Moussa) Sissoko. He speaks of (a price of) €30m (£24.4m), so we need at least 60, maybe even 61. Anyone who wants Benatia will have to pay €61m (£49.6m).”
Chelsea are also thought to be interested in Benatia as the Blues looking to find an able replacement of David Luiz, who left for PSG. Last month TMW reported that the Londoners had lodged a €38m bid for Benatia and were prepared to include Romelu Lukaku as a part of the deal.
Chelsea scouts have been following him closely with La Gazzetta dell Sport now reports that the player prefers a move to Chelsea in the summer.
This could be an encouraging news for Chelsea, although out-haggling Roma from the negotiation table won’t be an easy task.