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Report: Roma signing Arsenal target could send Benatia to Chelsea

Roma are said to be close to signing Kostas Manolas from Olympiacos, which may mean Mehdi Benatia is free to sign for Chelsea.

Italian press reports suggest that Roma are edging towards a deal for Greek defender Kostas Manolas, who could arrive to replace Mehdi Benatia.

Moroccan star Benatia was impeccable at the back for Roma last season and has attracted attention from several of Europe's top clubs.

The towering stopper responded to strong links with Manchester City by beginning to demand a wage increase at Roma and he appeared to have his heart set on a move before City chose Eliaquim Mangala instead.

Benatia has returned to the Roma fold for pre-season, but there are voices suggesting that he would still welcome a move to the Premier League.

Chelsea are known to have been keeping an eye on Benatia, but no bid has ever been presented.

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, Roma have been working on a deal for Olympiacos defender Kostas Manolas for some time and are nearing an agreement.

Manolas, who has been linked to Arsenal in recent weeks, seems to be close to Roma after sporting director Walter Sabatini met Olympiacos officials and the player's agent Mino Raiola.

The Greek club reportedly want around £8 million for Manolas while Roma are willing to pay closer to £5.6 million.

Il Messaggero points out that Manolas would be a ready-made replacement for Benatia and suggests that Chelsea and Bayern Munich may be waiting to pounce for him.

Roma have spent heavily this summer and may need to free up some cash from selling Benatia, who is valued at around £25 million, and bringing in a cheaper alternative. 

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