Gerard Pique
Chelsea eying Pique as a long-term replacement for John TerryReuters

Chelsea have stepped up their interest in Gerard Pique by reportedly making an official £23.6 million bid for the Barcelona defender.

The Spain centre-back is believed to be interested in making a move from Barcelona in search of a new challenge, having achieved everything at the Catalan club.

Manchester United were earlier thought to be leading the race to re-sign Pique, with there being reports of the Red Devils lining up a 20 million bid for the 27-year-old defender.

However, now the Metro claims that Chelsea are leading the race to sign the Spanish centre-back, who re-joined Barcelona from Manchester United in the summer of 2008, by making a £23.6 million bid.

Having already signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona for a reported €33 million this summer, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly interested in bringing Pique to Stamford Bridge as the Blues only have two experienced centre-backs – John Terry and Gary Cahill -- following the departure of David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain this summer.

The Spaniard is reportedly being considered as a long-term replacement for the Blues ageing captain John Terry, who may be leaving Stamford Bridge following the expiration of his contract this summer.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Wolfsburg defender Ricardo Rodriguez after the club's general manager Klaus Allofs rubbished speculations of left-back moving to the Premier League in January.

The 22-year-old, who arrived to Wolfsburg from Swiss FC Zurich in the summer of 2012, has been heavily linked with a move to England following his impressive stint with Switzerland during the 2014 World Cup.

Chelsea along with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham were being linked to the £15 million-rated left-back, who has made 83 Bundesliga appearances for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

However, Allofs has dismissed all the links, insisting that 22-year-old will not be leaving before the expiration of his contract in 2016.

"Ricardo Rodriguez is under contract until June 2016," said Allofs, according to the Daily Express."It doesn't matter if we aren't able to agree a new deal with him, we will not agree to an early departure."

The former West Germany striker is also optimistic of Rodriguez extending his stay at Wolfsburg.

"Anyway, I am confident that we will be able to sign a new deal with Ricardo Rodriguez."