Chelsea are preparing to make a surprise move for Southampton’s teenage left-back Luke Shaw as the long-term replacement for Ashley Cole.
The 17-year-old has emerged as one of the most sought after young talents in the country following an exceptional debut season in the Premier League with the Saints and his standout performances have caught the eye of Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
St Mary’s boss Mauricio Pochettino and chairman Nicolo Cortese are hoping to persuade Shaw to sign a five-year deal with the club when he turns 18 on July 12 and the player has reportedly given a verbal pledge to continue his development on the south Coast.
Chelsea are aware of that and are willing to broker a deal that will see them pay £10 million for Shaw and allow him return to Southampton on loan for the 2013/14 season.
They are hoping the lure of Champions League football and the possibility of playing under Jose Mourinho will convince to the defender to make the move to west London, while the opportunity to remain with his hometown club for another year will act as a further incentive.
Finding a successor for Cole, who turns 33 this year, is of crucial importance to Chelsea and should their bid to tempt Shaw to the capital fails they will turn to Steaua Bucharest defender Vlad Chiriches as an alternative.
The 23-year-old Romanian international has impressed for Ros-Albastrii this season and gained a legion of admirers, including that of Abramovich, following a series of exciting displays in the Champions League.
The Russian billionaire also wants to strengthen in midfield and is said to be monitoring Everton star Marouane Fellaini, who is viewed as the natural heir to Frank Lampard’s throne on Kings Road.
However, it’s thought Fellaini will only entertain interest from Manchester United as he is keen to continue working with David Moyes after he signed on to replace Sir Alex Ferguson in the Old Trafford hotseat.
With that in mind Roma’s Miralem Pjanic has come into consideration following a blistering season in Serie A and has grown into key player for the club since arriving Lyon for a knockdown £9m in August 2011.
The 23-year-old Bosnian playmaker has grown into one of Europe’s hottest talent after a tremendous campaign at the Stadio Olimpico, drawing admiring glances from Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham meaning Chelsea have a fight on their hands to acquire is signature.