Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea pick up pace in the race to net Monaco's £68m-rated Silva

By Jack de Menezes

Chelsea are reported to have opened preliminary talks with Monaco over a summer transfer for Bernardo Silva, with the highly-rated Portugal international expected to leave the Ligue 1 side after this season.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge as well as the likes of tonight's Champions League opponents Manchester City and Real Madrid, though Monaco currently value him at around €80m (£68.4m) and that could go a long way towards fending off interested parties.

Chelsea, though, don't appear to have been frightened off with talks reportedly already taking place between the Premier League side and Monaco. However, while Chelsea appear to be making the first move for Silva, it could be part of a long-winded transfer plan that will trigger a number of deals in the summer.

Chelsea have also been linked with Real midfielder James Rodriguez, with reports adding that Real see Bernardo as a fitting replacement for the Colombian.

A Spanish tug-of-war could also develop given that reports add that Barcelona are monitoring Bernardo due to the uncertainty that currently surrounds Neymar's future.

The Brazil international has been linked with a potential Nou Camp exit, with both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United showing previous interest, and Barcelona's impending Champions League exit will not have helped their chances of persuading him to stay in Catalonia.

But it appears that Roman Abramovich is already preparing plans for life after Diego Costa. The Brazil-born Spain international looks likely to leave after pushing for a move during January, and although he has since settled his spat with manager Antonio Conte, he may still exit.

Chelsea were only willing to sell Costa for around £130m, with interest coming from China, but Spain seems the most likely destination.

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