By Wayne Veysey
Chelsea have opened preliminary talks with Roma to sign Daniele De Rossi this summer.
The Londoners have made a formal move for the Italy international as they step up plans to land their key summer targets.
The Blues already have a deal in place to sign 20-year-old Vitesse midfielder Marco van Ginkel.
Jose Mourinho, who will be confirmed this week as the Chelsea manager for a second time, is a big admirer of De Rossi and wants him to be his midfield kingpin at Stamford Bridge next season.
The 29-year-old will be allowed to leave Roma for around €18 million after a troubled campaign in which he lost his regular starting place in the heart of the Giallorossi midfield under the stewardship of former boss Zdenek Zeman.
Negotiations between Chelsea officials and their counterparts at Roma began last week over a deal, with the major hurdle not likely to be the transfer fee but the player's wage demands.
De Rossi, who was the subject of an offer from Manchester City last summer before committing himself to his boyhood club for another campaign, is believed to be one of the highest earners in Serie A with a net salary of €6million per year.
"De Rossi knows that Mourinho wants him and Roma are ready to sell him for the right price," a source close to the situation told Goal. "His time at Roma is up."
The midfield anchorman joined Roma at 17 and has spent his entire professional career at the club, and has accumulated 84 caps for the Italy national team.
Despite having a contract that runs until 2017 and being a huge favourite of supporters at the Serie A club, De Rossi is understood to be interested in a new challenge and testing himself in the Premier League.
Roma general manager Franco Baldini, who could become technical director at Tottenham this summer, was in London last week but denied he was in talks over De Rossi.
"I went to London to sell Stekelenburg to Fulham," he told the Corriere dello Sport. "I have not done anything about De Rossi and I can't say anything"
Chelsea have recently secured Frank Lampard on a new one-year contract but are keen to reinforce a central midfield that was at times left threadbare during a relentless schedule of fixtures in the second half of last season.
Centre-back David Luiz was used as an emergency midfielder on a number of occasions but Mourinho wants an experienced operator to provide competition for Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires.