Chelsea are ready to break their transfer record in the pursuit of Borussia Dortmund's wantaway forward Jadon Sancho and are confident about their chances of landing him ahead of Manchester United either in January or next summer.
The Blues are pressing ahead with transfer plans, despite their current ban on signing players, with a Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] appeal verdict due any day, and are willing to pay more than the £72 million they stumped up to capture goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Club last year.
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Sancho enjoys a close relationship with a number of Chelsea players, including England team-mates Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and hails from London.
He is understood to be ready to leave Dortmund after enduring a turbulent start to the Bundesliga season as, although Sancho's output has remained high, he has been hit with disciplinary sanctions this term.
The 19-year-old was pulled from a league match against Bayern Munich after only 36 minutes, with coach Lucien Favre slamming the player as "not good enough" and last week Sancho was dropped from the starting line-up to face Barcelona in the Champions League after reporting late for a pre-game team meeting. Favre said after the game that he needed "focused players" for the fixture, which Dortmund lost 3-1.
Those issues have helped to signal hope that Dortmund may consider selling their No.1 asset sooner rather than later, with moves for Antony of Sao Paulo or Everton of Gremio in the works and to be funded by using any proceeds from a Sancho departure.
Dortmund sold Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona for an initial €105 million in 2017 and Sancho would likely command a fee above that figure given his current contract runs until 2022.
Liverpool are known to be admirers of the England forward but manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the price is too high. The European champions would also have no space for Sancho in their starting line-up so long as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah remain at the club.
For their part, United are prepared to pay up to €140m (£119m/$155m) to land Sancho in January but are hampered by the fact that they are 10th in the Premier League, ahead of Wednesday's home date with Tottenham, and a long way from the Champions League places Chelsea currently occupy.
Moreover, Chelsea’s wide forwards Willian and Pedro are out of contract at Stamford Bridge next summer with space opening up for a new player in that position.
Manchester City, the club Sancho left in order to move to Dortmund, are not currently interested in re-signing their former player.
*additional reporting from Bruno Andrade and Alex Netherton.