CHELSEA face losing a £70million fight with Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti.
But Barca regard Verratti, 24, as the type of deep-lying playmaker they have struggled to find since Xavi Hernandez left two years ago.
Verratti and £86m-rated Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann are the costliest superstars on Conte’s wishlist.
The Premier League champions-elect are preparing for the possible loss of top scorer Diego Costa, Real Madrid target Eden Hazard and even keeper Thibaut Courtois.
And Barca are best placed to nab former Pescara ace Verratti, according to goal.com – despite PSG insisting they will keep their main man.
Verratti would give Chelsea a compact central midfield alongside N’Golo Kante, who has been such a huge success since swapping Leicester‘s title glory for Conte’s first season in English football.
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Real Madrid were also keen on Verratti.
But that interest has reportedly cooled since then-boss Carlo Ancelotti left in 2015.
And current Real manager Zinedine Zidane is more focused on signing an outstanding wide man, like Belgium stylist Hazard.