Chelsea to face stiff competition from Everton & others in race to sign Serie A starlet

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Chelsea are being rivalled by fellow Premier League side Everton in the race to sign highly-rated Atalanta midfielder Frank Kessie, according to reports stemming from Italy.

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The west London club are in the market for fresh legs in the centre of the park during the winter window, and Italian coach Antonio Conte’s knowledge of Serie A has led them to the 20-year-old Ivorian.

Talks are understood to be underway between officials of Chelsea and the Italian club, although a figure of in excess of £30m has been placed on Kessie’s head to deter suitors from making a January bid.

Surprise package Atalanta currently sit in sixth-place in the Serie A table, ahead of the likes of more Inter and Fiorentina, and with European qualification a distinct possibility, the Nerazzuri would be loath to lose their star man at this stage in the campaign.

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But that resolve has been tested not just by the Premier League leaders, but also Ronald Koeman’s Everton, who Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio claims have had a bid in the region of £15m rejected for the man labelled in his homeland as ‘the next Yaya Toure’.

It remains to be seen if the Toffees will return with another offer for the powerful box-to-box midfielder, as they hone in on Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin, but their interest, together with that of Scudetto holders Juventus, puts a major spanner in the works as far as Chelsea’s bid to sign Kessie is concerned.

The starlet’s potential transfer is further complicated by the fact that he is currently away with his country for this month’s African Cup of Nations. As such, any switch would be dependent on, first, a bid being accepted by Atalanta, and, second, rigid time constraints relating to his involvement in the Gabon-based tournament.

All indications are that if a move to the Premier League is to materialise for Kessie, it will thus be during the summer window and not over the next few weeks.

The 20-year-old has scored seven goals in 19 games so far this season.

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