Chelsea have asked Sevilla to negotiate a deal for Jules Kounde which would seem them avoid paying his entire release clause, 90min understands.
The French defender has emerged as the Blues' top target in central defence, with Thomas Tuchel eager for another player to bolster his options.
Chelsea are open to the idea of Kurt Zouma moving on, and he was offered to Sevilla as part of the deal – but the Frenchman was not keen on moving to La Liga. He may still accept a move to West Ham, who have approached Chelsea, but the asking price of £25m is out of the Hammers' range.
Sevilla were keen on Zouma as they saw him as a good replacement for Kounde, and with him included, that would have seen their asking price drop to less than £40m - this being a price Chelsea were able to pay.
Kounde has a release clause of €80m (£68m) in his contract. But in order to activate it, if the selling club does not want to take an offer, the buyer would need to pay in full.
90min has been told that paying all of the fee up front could push Chelsea close to issues with Financial Fair Play rules; which might have been slackened on the continent but still have to be abided by in the Premier League.
When Zouma ruled himself out, Chelsea spoke to Sevilla about whether they would take a deal which would allow them to pay in instalments over a number of years, as is the norm for most deals. Sevilla were willing, however we understand that in return for taking such a deal, they upped their asking price by another £20m. That would take the overall fee towards the £90m mark.
Whilst Chelsea are willing to pay a little more in return for not having to meet his clause in full, they are understood to have baulked at the additional £20m.
Chelsea are now continuing talks over a deal, as we understand that the 22-year-old is keen to make the move to west London and wants the move finalising.
Blues officials have been busy concluding their club record deal for Romelu Lukaku, but once that is completed they are expected to work hard on completing a move for Kounde.
Sevilla director Monchi has spoken on the potential transfer, admitting that the club would sell for an "important" bid, though no official bid has yet been lodged.
"Many clubs have asked for Kounde," he said. " Of course there's interest but no official bid is on the table. I don't know what's going to happen - if an important bid arrives, we'll sell, as this is our policy to improve the team."