With Cesc Fabregas keen on joining French club Monaco, Chelsea have identified Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella as the player to replace Fabregas.
According to a report on Standard Sport, the 21-year-old midfielder is reluctant to join Chelsea due to concerns over game-time under Maurizio Sarri.
Fabregas opted to leave Chelsea this January after starting just one Premier League game this season and the Barella expects the same if he joins Chelsea.
Sarri rarely rotates his Premier League lineup which means players outside the starting XI rarely get the chance to start a Premier League game.
Sarri insisted this week that if Fabregas leaves for Monaco, the club will need to sign a replacement for the Spanish midfielder.
“I don’t want to speak about players of other teams of course. If Cesc goes of course we will need a replacement. Now with the midfielders we are in trouble,” Sarri said on Monday.
“Without Cesc we are only 5 so we are in trouble. We need a replacement of course.”
Meanwhile, Sky Italia journalist Ghilda Pensante has said Arsenal have shown more interest in signing Chelsea target Barella.
Pensante said: “Barella is a very young central midfielder, who combines very good technique and strong personality.
“He is going to be 22 next month and he already made his debut with the national team in October 2018 after playing with the under-21 team.
“At present the most likely option for him is to stay with Cagliari until the end of the season, but the closest club to Barella in Serie A is Napoli, who could only close the deal for him in January if Allan leaves them.
“[Another team] interested in him in Italy is AC Milan.
“[Maurizio] Sarri at Chelsea really likes the player, but the Premier League club we know has been showing more interest in him is Arsenal.
“At present we think Napoli are the advanced, compared to the other clubs.
“Also we know that Sarri really likes the player but Chelsea are not so convinced by him.
“It’s more Sarri than Chelsea at the moment so maybe Sarri needs to convince Chelsea that the player is worth trying and trying again for, before other clubs close the deal.”