Chelsea FC are interested in signing AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia according to reports in Italy.

Mehdi Benatia has been linked with a move away from Stadio Olimpico all summer long. Recent reports in Italy suggest that Chelsea are keen on signing the Moroccan defender after Manchester City withdrew their initial interest in him.

The 27-year-old center back joined Roma from Udinese at the start of last season and produced some wonderful performances at the center of the defence alongside Leandro Castan.

Roma made a flying start to their Serie A season and remained in contention for the title for a long duration. The base of their title challenge was built upon their wonderful defence at the back as they conceded only 25 goals in 38 matches. Benatia established himself as one of the best center backs in the World and his performances provided him with a lot of attention from a host of European clubs.

Benatia’s future at Roma came under doubts when the defender publicly criticized the club for failing to keep their promise of offering him a pay-rise. Benatia revealed that Roma assured him of a better contract if they qualify for the Champions League, but their offer failed to match his expectations.

His situation at the Italian club has been monitored by a host of big clubs including Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but Manchester City were believed to be the front runners last month. City and Roma failed to reach an agreement over a fee though, and the English club turned their attention towards Eliaquim Mangala.

Latest reports in Italy claim that Chelsea have now entered the race the sign Benatia as Jose Mourinho looks to shore up his defence. The Portuguese manager is a huge admirer of the former Udinese defender and sees him as the perfect replacement for David Luiz, who joined PSG earlier this summer.

Chelsea have  had a busy summer so far as they look to improve on a disappointing season last time around and have already signed the likes of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas. The departure of David Luiz has also inflated their transfer budget and Mourinho is keen to reinvest that in the squad with a £30million bid for the Roma defender.