Chelsea have made their interest in Philippe Coutinho official and opened negotiations with Barcelona, according to a report from Spain.
The Brazilian has struggled to settle at Camp Nou since his £142m move from Liverpool in January 2018.
Despite an impressive loan spell with Bayern Munich this season, his future still lies away from Barcelona, and Coutinho's agent escalated rumours by claiming earlier this month that he "would love" a to play in the Premier League again.
And the door has been opened for Coutinho to return to England thanks to Bayern Munich not activating a €120m (£105m) option to buy the midfielder at the end of his loan in Germany.
Once Chelsea learned of this, they contacted Barcelona to begin negotiations for a fee, according to Spanish outlet Sport.
The report adds that Blues boss Frank Lampard is assembling a squad for the 2020-21 season which will be able to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City at the Premier League's summit.
However, it is expected that negotiations could be drawn out as the clubs thrash out a fee for Coutinho.
Barcelona are loath to let the 27-year-old leave the club for a huge amount less than they paid two years ago and are aiming to sell for no less than €90m (£79m).
Meanwhile, Chelsea are unwilling to spend that much on the player and believe they can bargain for a lower fee based on Coutinho's desire to return to the Premier League and Barcelona's need to raise funds for their summer transfers.
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