Chelsea leading race to sign €55m-rated Ivory Coast international

London club have opened discussions about signing Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace. Chelsea were prevented from signing footballers in the summer as they are serving a two-window ban for breaching FIFA’s transfer rules involving academy-age footballers.

Blues have appealed the ruling and could potentially see their ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration, which would mean that Chelsea could complete signings in the upcoming winter transfer window. But Blues have already been working on a deal for Ivory Coast international behind the scenes which they are aiming to complete next year.

The report claims that the London club’s director of football Marina Granovskaia has spoken to an intermediary, Federico Pastorello, about putting a move together for Wilfried at the end of the campaign.

Zaha was keen to leave the Eagles in the summer after Gunners had registered their interest. But Crystal Palace were holding out for an £80m transfer fee, a figure Gunners were unwilling to match.

The 27-year-old winger’s current deal with the Eagles expires in 2023 and Hodgson said this week that he expects the attacker to remain at the Palace unless they receive an acceptable offer. ‘We are pleased to have him with us still, and I am very much counting on us having him still,’ said Roy.

‘In the summer, the club received at least one bid they didn’t feel was the right one to accept and he, unfortunately, if he chooses to see it that way, had to respect the three or four-year contract he signed with the club.’