Antonio Conte has asked Chelsea’s powerbrokers to sanction a world record bid for Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann next summer.
Conte is ready to go above the £86million release clause in Griezmann’s contract to head off interest from Manchester United.
And that means splashing out more than the £89m that United paid Juventus to take Griezmann’s close pal Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.
Griezmann, 25, who has been Atletico’s leading scorer for the last two seasons, also topped the scoring charts at Euro 2016.
Atletico were last week handed a transfer embargo from FIFA for the next two transfer windows.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa, a long-term target for Atletico, could be used to sweeten the deal but Atletico would need to successfully appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for that to even be an option.
Atletico’s ban was confirmed this week after a lengthy FIFA investigation found the club had breached rules regarding the acquisition of players under the age of 18.
Real Madrid have been given the same punishment, which was also handed down to Barcelona in the two transfer windows of 2015.
Costa was linked with a move to Atletico this summer but Conte was determined to keep the striker and has been rewarded for that trust with two goals from the Spaniard.
United’s interest in Griezmann was unearthed almost as soon as the transfer window ended, with manager Jose Mourinho keen to get working on plans for next summer.