Chelsea target Mateo Kovacic is refusing to train or play for Real Madrid again.
That is the claim coming out of Spain tonight over the £54million-rated Croatian World Cup midfielder who has also interested Manchester United.
Kovacic is thought to have told Real three times he wants to leave.
But the ex-Inter Milan hero has reportedly suggested he is unwilling to play under United boss Jose Mourinho.
He fears his deep-lying style is ill-suited to Mourinho’s more robust tactics.
And that must heighten the keenness of new Stamford Bridge chief Maurizio Sarri.
The former Napoli coach has already signed Italy midfieler Jorginho for £53m, after seeing off Manchester City in one of the summer’s biggest tugs-of-war.
That is one reasons why Premier League champions City have also been linked with Kovacic.
But it seems Chelsea would be favourites to land him – IF Real agree to sell and he decides to move to the Premier League.
So far the Champions League winners have shown little indication they want him out.
At one stage Real director Jose Angel Sanchez even said: “Kovacic is not for sale, we will never sell him.’
“He is one of the players the club’s future relies on.”
Nonetheless, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro are well-established at the heart of the Real team.
And Spanish central midfielder Dani Ceballos, 21, is rated as the future for both club and country, despite yet winning a senior cap.