Leeds United are plotting a late-window swoop for Chelsea star Ross Barkley as a possible alternative to Udinese playmaker Rodrigo De Paul, Football Insider understands.
Leeds have held extensive talks about a deal for De Paul but have been unable to agree a fee even though he wants the move and has agreed personal terms.
A recruitment source has told Football Insider that United are assessing potential back-ups to the Argentine as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of the 5 October cut-off.
One possibility is a loan move for Barkley, who could be made available by Chelsea as they look to lower their wage bill after an enormous summer recruitment drive.
The 26-year-old had a spell on loan at Leeds in the second half of 2012-13 when he was aged 19 and making his way at Everton.
Neil Warnock was in charge of United at the time and Barkley made four appearances before returning to Goodison Park a month later after struggling for game time.
As revealed by Football Insider, Chelsea have mooted including Barkley in part-exchange as part of a mammoth bid for Declan Rice.
The Blues value the attacking midfielder at around the £30million mark and are willing to let him go two-and-a-half years after his arrival from Everton.
Barkley played the full 90 minutes of Chelsea’s EFL Cup victory over Barnsley on Wednesday night, scoring his side’s third goal.
But he is not a regular starter in the Premier League and was a second-half substitute in their matches against Liverpool and Brighton.
Leeds are keen to recruit a playmaker who can take over the creative mantle from Pablo Hernandez, who turned 35 in April.