Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić is edging closer to a move away from Catalonia after the club held talks over his future with Serie A giants Inter.
The 31-year-old has spent five years at the club and made 276 appearances for Barcelona, but manager Ernesto Valverde has pushed Rakitić down the pecking order this season and even opened the door for him to leave in January.
An agreement still hasn't been reached, but relations between the two clubs are strong and Inter appear confident that they can find a middle ground with Barcelona over the next two months.
It's claimed that Barcelona are currently holding out for a €35m transfer fee, but Inter could struggle to match it as they've already spent €155m this season - another €25m has been put aside to make Nicolò Barella's loan move permanent next year.
Even if Rakitić does leave during the January transfer window, it's understood that Barcelona will not look to sign a direct replacement.
Instead, La Masia graduates like Carles Aleñá, Riqui Puig and Álex Collado will be given more game time and the chance to impress in Barcelona's first-team.
If Inter can seal a move for Rakitić this season then the Croatia international is likely to walk straight into Conte's starting lineup, although the Italian manager already has a handful of options to pick from in midfield.
Rakitić's international teammate Marcelo Brozovic is a regular fixture in defensive midfield, while the likes of Stefano Sensi, Matías Vecino, Roberto Gagliardini and Barella have all featured further up the pitch.
Summer signing Lucien Agoumé, 17, is also on the cusp of breaking into Inter's senior squad, with Conte already proving his willingness to give young players a chance by using Sebastiano Esposito and Alessandro Bastoni this season.