Chelsea started negotiations with 24-year-old Ligue 1 star

The London giants have identified Nice midfielder Danilo Barbosa as a cheaper alternative to top target Declan Rice. Chelsea have been left frustrated in their efforts to get a deal over the line for England international, with West Ham United refusing to lower their £80m asking price for the 21-year-old midfielder.

Frank Lampard’s side still retain an interest in re-signing their former academy reject and could make a move in winter or next summer, but they are ready to consider other options as well.

Atalanta midfielder Marten de Roon has been lined up as a possible target on a free transfer next summer but the Blues also have Brazil U-23 international Danilo on their radar as a younger option.

Barbosa rose through the youth ranks of Vasco da Gama in his native Brazil before completing a move to Europe with Portuguese outfit Braga in the summer of 2014. Danilo quickly established himself as a regular starter at Braga, with his consistently impressive performances paving the way for a loan move to Valencia in 2015.

The Brazilian midfielder enjoyed a successful loan spell in Spain, playing 34 matches for Valencia in all tournaments during the 2015-16 season. He subsequently had temporary stints at Benfica and Standard Liege before returning to Braga for the 2017-18 campaign, where he helped them to a 4th-place finish in the Liga NOS.