Chelsea and City battle for €40m Jamie Vardy to save their seasons
Chelsea could face competition from Manchester City for £30m-rated striker Jamie Vardy next month, with Leicester City ready to fight to keep their star man.
Vardy is on Chelsea's list of targets for when the transfer window reopens in the new year, while City have made a tentative check on the 28-year-old.
Top-of-the-table Leicester are determined to hold on to Vardy and will offer him a new contract and wage rise, but that is unlikely to stop Chelsea testing their resolve by making a January bid.
City's interest is not thought to be anywhere near as strong as Chelsea's and there has been no indication that the club are lining up a bid. But an offer from Chelsea or another significant injury to Sergio Aguero (below) could mean City target Vardy, who is eligible for the Champions League and would boost their home-grown quota.
City have been caught short in the striker department at times this season, with Wilfried Bony and teenager Kelechi Iheanacho the only alternatives to injury-prone Aguero.
With City's squad already containing the maximum 17 foreign players, Iheanacho had to be left out of the 21-man squad for the group stages of the Champions League. Signing Vardy would present no such problems for the knockout phase and give manager Manuel Pellegrini greater striking options.
Chelsea have been short of goals this season, with Diego Costa suffering a crisis of confidence and Radamel Falcao failing to make any sort of impact since his summer loan move.
Vardy has this season broken Ruud van Nistelrooy's record by scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games and has netted 15 goals in total, including strikes against Manchester United and Chelsea.
Vardy still has two and a half years remaining on his £40,000-a-week contract, but Leicester are preparing to offer a new deal with a significant wage rise. That may be enough to keep Vardy at the King Power Stadium, but the player may also be aware that the January transfer window could represent his most realistic chance of moving to one of England's biggest clubs.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has reiterated his belief that both Vardy and Riyad Mahrez will stay next month.
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany is facing a race against time to play a part in City's Christmas fixtures.
The Belgian's absence has become increasingly damaging to manager Pellegrini's hopes of regaining the Premier League title. Kompany, who has missed his side's last eight matches with a calf problem, is scheduled to return to full training this week, but Pellegrini is uncertain as to whether he will be ready for the match at home to Sunderland on St Stephen's Day.
Pellegrini is wary of rushing back the centre-back, who has suffered two significant injury setbacks this season and has made only three league appearances in the last three months.
Kompany watched from the stand on Monday as City suffered a 2-1 league defeat at Arsenal, a result that left them third, six points adrift of Leicester.
His commanding influence on Pellegrini's defence is clear; City have conceded just one goal in the seven league matches in which their captain has played this season, while letting in 18 in the 10 he has missed.
Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala have been the regular defensive partnership in Kompany's absence, but have rarely looked solid.
If Kompany is not fit to face Sunderland, Pellegrini will be keen to ensure that he is ready for the trip to Leicester three days later.
City full-back Bacary Sagna, the acknowledged that the defence had struggled without Kompany's influence.
"Vincent is a quality defender. He is our captain and we miss him of course," he said. "We can't be happy with what happened against Arsenal." (© Daily Telegraph, London)