By Abigail Withey
Chelsea are set to step up their pursuit of Southampton full-back Cedric Soares, according to a report.
The Evening Standard has revealed that the Premier League champions have ramped up their interest in the 25-year-old after initially eyeing the star back in April.
The newspaper claims that Chelsea are confident in persuading the Saints to agree a transfer with a bid between £15-20million for the right-back.
It is understood that Antonio Conte’s side was linked with Paris Saint-Germain’s Serge Aurier in addition to Valencia’s Joao Cancelo, but the Blues felt that proven Premier League performer Soares was a cheaper option.
The Portugal international joined Southampton from Sporting CP in 2015 in a deal close to £6million and has three years left on his contract with the club.
Since moving to the St. Mary’s Stadium two years ago the full-back has become a key part of the squad and has made a total of 62 appearances across all competitions.
Soares started against Swansea City during the Saints’ opening game of the Premier League season and played the full 90 minutes of their goalless draw.
Soares has displayed a fantastic performance throughout his past two seasons with Southampton and has proven that he is incredibly suited to playing Premier League football. In addition to his defending at the Saints, Conte will no doubt be drawn to the full-back after he was featured in the Portugal squad which won the 2016 Euros last summer. Chelsea appear confident and almost a little arrogant with their pursuit of the defender, but this could cost them the deal. With Virgil van Dijk close to a departure it’s unlikely that Southampton will easily give up another defender for £20 million, especially with the current inflation within football at the moment. Southampton know that Chelsea have the funds and it wouldn’t be surprising if the club ramp up their asking price for the Portuguese ace.
In other Chelsea news, the club are preparing a £120 million transfer splurge on three Premier League players.