Chelsea are now reportedly lining up a move for Ross Barkley next summer, with Manchester City understood to have pulled out from the race for the Everton midfielder.
City had been linked to the 20-year-old for around a year now, and were understood to the frontrunners for his signature but Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations stopped them from making a move for the player this summer.
According to the Daily Star, the Premier League champions made a fresh approach for Barkely last week with a view to make a £35m offer. But Everton apparently informed the Citizens that the England international Barkley will not be sold for anything less than £50m, which seems to have led to City looking at other options.
However, the report claims that Barkley's £50m price tag has not put off Chelsea, who are believed to have built a good relationship with Everton in recent years, having sold Romelu Lukaku to the Merseyside outfit this summer, as well as loaning out Christian Atsu.
The west London outfit will now look to snap up Barkley next summer, with doubts increasing over the futures of Oscar, Willian and Mohamed Salah.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez had revealed last week that the Toffees are yet to receive any formal approaches for Barkley.
"No. There's nothing to comment on from my point of view, it's a rumour and we'll leave it there. I've spoken in the past about interest, we'll take it as a compliment and move on. We just want Ross fully fit," Goal quoted the Spaniard.
Barkley, who scored six goals from 25 starts in the Premier League last season, has been sidelined with a medial ligament injury, which he suffered before the start of the season. But the midfielder has now returned to light training.
"He's recovering quicker than we thought but it's still in the early stages," Martinez stressed. "Medicine and football don't go hand in hand but he's doing really well.
"He's starting to run, which is something we didn't expect until next week. I expect it will be a few weeks still but he's well ahead of where we expected and it's all positive."