Chelsea preparing bid for Benteke

After looking set to miss out on Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain, Jose Mourinho has identified the Belgium international as the man to spearhead a new-look Blues frontline
By Duncan Castles

Chelsea are preparing a bid for Aston Villa star Christian Benteke as Jose Mourinho seeks a solution to the club's pursuit of a new striker, Goal understands.

The returning manager has been thwarted in his attempt to sign Edinson Cavani and has thus far been unable to convince Robert Lewandowski to choose English football over a future move to Bayern Munich.

Benteke submitted a formal transfer request on Monday and, at 22, is attracted by the prospect of playing Champions League football and competing for the domestic title after a first Premier League season in which he scored 19 times for a club fighting relegation.

The Belgium international also fits Mourinho's preferred profile of a physically powerful striker capable of leading the attack alone, and is more readily attainable as a result of Villa's fragile financial state.

6/4 Tottenham are 6/4 favourites with BetVictor to sign Christian Benteke
With Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis refusing to back down on his demand that Cavani's £54.2 million [€63m] release clause be met in full, the Uruguay international is near to joining Paris Saint-Germain instead after the Ligue 1 outfit's director of football Leonardo revealed that negotiations are taking place between the clubs.

Also, aware that Borussia Dortmund would sell to Chelsea this summer rather than see Lewandowski join Bayern in a year's time, Mourinho has attempted to persuade the Pole to join him at Stamford Bridge - so far without success. Jurgen Klopp, the Dortmund coach, has confirmed that a move to their Bundesliga rivals is likely.

Mourinho identified a striker as one of three key positions to reinforce before he accepted Roman Abramovich's invitation to return as Chelsea manager after five seasons managing Inter and Real Madrid. The Russian billionaire is on board with Mourinho's intention to sell record signing Fernando Torres after two-and-a-half campaigns under four different coaches.

January acquisition Demba Ba is also surplus to requirements in Mourinho's preferred squad make-up and has been permitted to seek an immediate transfer out of Chelsea.

There is, however, room on the Portuguese's playing staff for Romelu Lukaku after the younger Belgian scored 17 goals in 35 Premier League appearances on loan at West Brom.

Lukaku will be given an opportunity to prove himself as Chelsea's back-up striker in the belief that the 20-year-old has the fundamentals to improve further in the position.

Chelsea also retain an interest in Mario Gomez, who has been allowed to secure new employers by Bayern after losing a guaranteed starting berth to Mario Mandzukic during their treble-winning campaign.

One of German football's best paid players, Gomez is looking to sustain an after-tax salary of £5.1m [€6m], while Bayern are asking for a significant transfer fee amidst competing interest from Fiorentina.

Goal revealed last month that both Tottenham and Liverpool have also monitored the Belgian's situation this summer.

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