Chelsea have turned their attentions to Inter Milan skipper Mauro Icardi after Everton refused to let Romelu Lukaku return to Stamford Bridge, according to Daily Mirror.
This could well become a big blow to the Arsenal as the Gunners are also heavily linked with the Argentine. Napoli are also said to be keeping tabs on the in-form attacker.
New Blues boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of the £50m-rated Argentine hitman. The 23-year-old scored 22 goals in 34 appearances last season for the Italian side, who yesterday sacked Roberto Mancini and will replace the former Manchester City boss with Frank De Boer.
He is starting to show consistency in his goal scoring and, at just 23-years-old, he still has room to improve.
Chelsea had been angling to get Lukaku back in their ranks two years after Everton paid a club record £28m for the Belgium star and were ready to go to £65m.
But majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has priced Lukaku out of the market by demanding £10 more than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was prepared to pay.
Everton are set to hold contract talks with Lukaku this week in a bid to cushion the blow of him not being allowed to leave, with a deal worth over £100,000 a week on offer.
Missing out on Lukaku will be a blow for Conte who has been looking to boost Chelsea’s strikeforce.
Although the main striker Diego Costa has also been told he cannot leave, the former Italy coach knows he needs back-up if the Spain ace fails to sparkle for a second year running.
Lukaku’s compatriot in the Belgium team, Michy Batshuayi, has already been signed for £33m from Marseille but the 22-year-old is seen as a player for the future.
An alternative to Icardi could be Brazil striker Gabriel Barbosa. Just 19 he has starred for Santos over the past three seasons, netting 53 goals in 139 games.