Frank Lampard is reportedly keen for Chelsea to try and sign John Stones from Manchester City – and wants to land the centre-back for as little as £20million once a deal for Kai Havertz is wrapped up.
The Blues boss is eager to strengthen his defence after Chelsea owned the worst defensive record of all the teams to finish in the top 10 of the Premier League table.
Despite clinching Champions League qualification, they leaked 64 goals in 38 games – 18 goals more than any other team to secure a top-four finish.
And Chelsea’s back-line was exposed again on Saturday night as Bayern Munich put four past the Londoners, although Lampard’s side were dealing with a host of injuries in Bavaria.
None of Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, Fikayo Tomori or Antonio Rudiger boast secure futures as a result of the club’s struggles at the back.
But as he looks to remedy their issues, Lampard has identified England international Stones, who has fallen down the pecking order at City, as an option according to the Daily Mirror.
Pep Guardiola has added former Chelsea defender Nathan Ake to his ranks and has also been linked with a move to sign another central defender, such as Kalidou Koulibaly.
And the Mirror say that the City manager is willing to cut ties with Stones, despite Nicolas Otamendi also being set to leave and Eric Garcia refusing to sign a new contract at the Etihad.
Despite the Citizens spending £47m to sign the defender from Everton four years ago, Stones has failed to cement himself as a regular under Guardiola.
Lampard believes he can get the best out of the 26-year-old, however, but he wants the deal done for as little as £20m.
Chelsea will only push ahead with their interest if City are prepared to take a significant loss on the £100,000-a-week star – which they are surely unlikely to despite the financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
City are not under pressure to sell and are likely to demand more for the former Barnsley trainee, who has 39 caps for his country.
Although he is not first choice, Stones remains a valuable option and made 42 Premier League appearances across their back-to-back title-winning seasons.
If Otamendi and Stones were sold, Guardiola would currently only have Aymeric Laporte, Ake and Garcia as senior options with both of the first two left footers.
And City’s £30m valuation of Garcia means they will surely want a similar amount if they are to part ways with Stones.
While 19-year-old Garcia’s age and room for growth is taken into account with his price tag, Stones clearly has quality and also a wealth of experience.
It remains to be seen if Chelsea and City can strike a deal but the two clubs are likely to have different valuations of the player.
The Blues are currently focusing their efforts on striking a deal with Bayer Leverkusen for Havertz, with Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia hard at work trying to broker an agreement.
Leverkusen want up to £90million for their attacking midfielder, who can also play out wide or as a centre forward, while Chelsea are hopeful of doing a deal at closer to £70m.
Signing the Germany international would give Lampard a brand new front-line for next season, with Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech having already been added to his squad, partly to combat the free transfer departures of Pedro and Willian.
RMC Sport have suggested Chelsea want the deal done in the coming days after several weeks of negotiations.
Havertz may have to wait until Leverkusen are out of the Europa League, with a quarter-final tie against Inter Milan on Monday night (8pm), before his current employers allow him to leave.
Meanwhile speaking to BT Sport cameras after the defeat to Bayern, Lampard made it clear he wants more signings – with a new goalkeeper and a left-back also thought to be on his wishlist.
He said: “In the last 20 years we had players, teams with prime [Eden] Hazard, [Diego] Costa, [Petr] Cech, [John] Terry and [Didier] Drogba.
“Competing for the Premier League year on year, getting to finals and semi-finals regularly. We know that’s not the case now…
“It’s not a slight work in progress. It’s a work in progress. It’s not the norm for Chelsea.
“We’ll look at that [new signings], because that’s our job.
“From having a transfer ban [last year] you feel we’ve missed where other clubs spent and improved… recruitment is a huge part of this game.
“Nights like this in a footballing sense, show me a lot, tell me a lot.”