Chelsea are ready to block Ola Aina’s £8.7million move to loan club Torino as the Blues sweat on a transfer ban.
The Nigeria defender, 22, is also wanted by Torino’s Serie rivals Fiorentina – but Stamford Bridge chiefs are increasingly keen to keep their talented youngsters.
Aina’s versatility and growing experience would be useful assets after he shone in both full-back positions on loan in Italy this season.
And Blues boss Maurizio Sarri has already acted to retain academy products.
The main example, of course, is 18-year-old winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who Chelsea are desperately fighting to keep from the clutches of Bayern Munich.
But the policy also applies to starlets out on loan like Aina and England Under-20 defender Reece James, 19, who has so impressive for Wigan in the Championship this term.
Both might have thought their time at the Bridge would be up this summer.
But now both are tipped to not just stay but also become part of the senior squad next term.
It’s a different story, though, for experienced full-backs Davide Zappacosta, 26, and 24-year-old Emerson Palmieri, whose Chelsea fortunes have dipped still further this term.
And even Marcos Alonso, 28, could be ousted as the Spain left-back’s form has slumped alarmingly this term.
Chelsea’s swing towards integrating more young players was emphasised last month by Chelsea’s loan technical coach Eddie Newton.
The former Blues midfielder said of Aina: ‘Ola has got exceptional talents – physical, technical, uses both feet, quick, powerful boy.
“But the question mark over his head was his concentration throughout 90 minutes. He has proved he can do that and been consistent this season.
“I’m really proud of him because he’s mentally tuned in now and I think we have to really start taking him seriously.”