Chelsea are seemingly ready to rival Liverpool in the pursuit of coveted Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk this summer after the latest gossip has revealed that a formal offer from Stamford Bridge is soon coming.
Liverpool infamously apologised to Southampton and withdrew from the race in June after accusations of tapping up, although rumours of a renewed Reds approach have never been far from the headlines in the weeks since.
It has been maintained that Van Dijk wants to join Liverpool, but he'll now have a viable alternative as the reigning Premier League champions make their move.
According to the Times, Chelsea have been 'persuaded to make a firm bid' by manager Antonio Conte after the Dutch international was initially identified as a target in January.
That expected offer will apparently total £50m and it is suggested that Southampton may be more willing to do business with Chelsea, even though their official stance still insists Van Dijk is not for sale, as a result of the ongoing poor relations with Liverpool.
Since returning to fitness after missing the final few months of last season with an ankle injury, Van Dijk has been training alone after informing the club of his desire to leave. It is for that reason - a lack of fitness - that he won't be involved in the Saints' opening game next weekend.
The Times report notes that Chelsea are 'optimistic' about wrapping up a possible deal before then. It is also suggested that Liverpool could still try their luck with a formal offer before the transfer window closes if Van Dijk is still available.