Catalan based newspaper Sport has delivered a transfer blow to Chelsea and Liverpool this morning in the form of AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia.
The Premier League linked centre-back is apparently happy and willing to sign a deal with the Spanish giants according to Sport, which throws significant doubt over whether the Blues or the Reds will get a chance to do a deal.
“Roma’s central defender, Mehdi Benatia – would be happy to reach an agreement with the Catalan club and formalise a coveted contract,” reports Sport.
The news will have slightly less impact for Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho’s team well stocked in terms of defensive reserves.
John Terry and Gary Cahill formed a strong partnership last season, which saw the Blues conceded fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League as Chelsea finished third.
Add to the mix the returning Kurt Zouma, signed and loaned back to Saint-Etienne last winter, with the developing Tomas Kalas and Chelsea have several central defensive options already.
There have also been reports this morning which have suggested that the Blues are ready to push on with aims to sign Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane.
Liverpool are in a similar position in terms of being well stocked through the middle of their defence.
Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure give Brendan Rodgers plenty of different options and any move from the Merseysiders for Benatia seems to depend on the boss letting one of those players go.
Agger has voiced frustrations and concerns over his own role at Anfield, as he lost his place in the starting side on more than one occasion last season.
Barca’s aims to sign a top quality central defender were highlighted last summer when they moved for the PSG-bound David Luiz.
The Catalan giants continue to be linked with other centre-backs but according to this Catalan newspaper, they have their heart set on poaching one of Roma’s best defensive talents.