Mateo Kovacic is in talks with Zenit Saint Petersburg over a potential summer move from Real Madrid, as Zinedine Zidane looks to raise funds for a summer squad overhaul.
The 24-year-old has spent this season on loan with Chelsea after Real deemed him surplus to requirements, but the Blues have no option to sign him permanently. With their two-window transfer ban approaching, Kovacic's future seems unclear.
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has recently spoken of his desire for the club to try make Kovacic's loan deal permanent, but their impending transfer ban will throw a spanner in the works.
As it stands, Chelsea will be unable to sign players in the next two transfer windows, although they are hoping to either delay or overturn that punishment after an appeal.
Even if they are granted this summer's transfer window to sign players, there remains some uncertainty over whether Kovacic would be signed. Sarri may have expressed his wish, but the Italian is also facing a potential exit from Stamford Bridge after struggling to win over a large part of the fan base.
Zidane is eager to sell Kovacic this summer as he sees no long-term future for the Croatia international at Real. He is keen to raise funds to sign the likes of Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba, and sees Kovacic as an easy way of generating some extra money.
But, with Chelsea potentially unable to complete the deal, Zenit have now expressed their interest in Kovacic, and are in the process of negotiating a deal with the midfielder's agents.
He has made 43 appearances for the Blues this season, often rotating with Ross Barkley for one of Sarri's three midfield spots. However, the emergence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek has left many fans calling for Kovacic to leave the club, and they may soon get their wish.