CHELSEA are reportedly set to use their Champions League clash against Barcelona to hold talks with Nou Camp chiefs over a deal for Samuel Umtiti.
The Barcelona defender has emerged as a target for Chelsea amid reports that he is stalling on a contract extension due to a row over personal terms.
Umtiti, who has a £53.2million (€60m) release clause in his current deal, is reportedly attracting interest from a host of Premier League clubs.
But, according to Don Balon, Chelsea bosses are planning to open negotiations with their Barcelona counterparts during their trip to the Catalan city.
Despite being able to talk to Umtiti once they meet his release clause, the Spanish publication claim Chelsea plan to open communication channels to keep relations friendly.
Barcelona are reportedly worried by Chelsea’s plot because they are struggling to meet Umtiti’s wage demands.
The France international currently earns £2.66million (€3m) a year under the terms of the five-year contract he penned upon joining from Lyon in 2016.
Despite the presence of an affordable release clause in Umtiti’s contract, Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde believes it is not an issue.
He said: “To an extent, the buyout clause is made high so that you can’t buy the player.
“But, as time goes by, that fee doesn’t seem so high at all.
“But the player still has to want to leave.
“We’re very happy with Umtiti and I’m sure he’s going to stay here for a very long time.”
Umtiti is expected to start tomorrow’s Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea.
The two sides head into the second leg level after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last month.