Chelsea have reportedly tabled an initial bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s free-kick specialist Hakan Calhanoglu.

According to Emre Sarigul of Turkish Football, Chelsea have decided to act ahead of Manchester United in the race to secure the services of Turkish attacker Hakan Calhanoglu and have made an offer for the set-piece sensation.

Leverkusen signed the 22-year-old from HSV Hamburg in 2014 for a relative bargain of €14.5 million, and the Turk has since gone on to become one of the key figures at the German club. He is widely regarded as one of Europe’s best free-kick takers, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Miralem Pjanic and Willian.

The player still has two and a half years remaining on his contract at the Bay Arena and is unlikely to leave the Germans mid-way through the season. He could, however, be tempted to move to Chelsea at the end of the season, as the Blues look set to join the continent’s elite in the Champions League next term.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 03: Hakan Calhanoglu of Leverkusen celebrates his team's first goal with team mate Julian Brandt during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and SC Freiburg at BayArena on December 3, 2016 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 03: Hakan Calhanoglu of Leverkusen celebrates his team’s first goal with team mate Julian Brandt during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and SC Freiburg at BayArena on December 3, 2016 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo Courtesy: Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Also, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will be looking to replace Oscar – who joined Shanghai SIPG in a big-money move – and has eyed Calhanoglu has an ideal replacement for the Brazilian.

If Chelsea manage to sign the Bayer star, he would become the first Turkish player to move to Stamford Bridge since Gokhan Tore who is currently out on loan at fellow Premier League side West Ham United. Like Tore, Calhanoglu too, was born into a Turkish family in Germany, but chose against representing Die Mannschaft.

The London club are likely to receive stiff competition from Manchester United to lure the 22-year-old away from the Bundesliga. Calhanoglu himself stated that it could be hard to turn down a move to Old Trafford, and is likely to fancy joining the Red Devils over the Blues.

Serie A side Inter Milan and English giants Tottenham Hotspur were also keeping an eye on the Turkey international in the summer. The two clubs could also chip in with bids should Leverkusen decide let go of their prized asset.

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