Antonio Conte has taken a personal interest in Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj, but Goal understands AC Milan are expected to beat Chelsea to his signature due to their urgency to replace the injured Ricardo Montolivo.
The Blues boss was spotted watching Joe Hart and Torino beat Fiorentina 2-1 a fortnight ago, but it was Badelj and not the England goalkeeper who he wanted to see most.
Milan's urgency in the transfer market is expected to give them an advantage in the race for Badelj - with Montolivo facing six months out after tearing his cruciate ligament on international duty with Italy.
Chelsea, meanwhile, do not have the space in their midfield to add him to their squad, with Cesc Fabregas struggling for game time and John Obi Mikel yet to make the matchday squad this season.
Milan are ready to make an offer in January after having a €16 million bid for Badelj rejected over the summer, with the defensive midfielder being open to make a move within the next year.
Badelj is a player that Fiorentina don't want to lose, but they could sell him for a higher fee if they let him go in January rather than in the summer with his contract entering into its final year in June.
La Viola are resigned to losing Badelj in the next year and Chelsea are ready to enter the market if Milan fail in their attempts to secure him in January.