Chelsea are ready to hand Dean Henderson a £170,000-a-week deal if he fails to get the guarantees he is seeking about his future at Manchester United.
Henderson has returned to Old Trafford at the end of a second successive season on loan with Sheffield United.
Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to tie him up on a new and improved long-term contract.
But England hopeful Hendo, 23, won’t put pen to paper unless he gets an assurance from Solskjaer that he will start next season as his first-choice keeper.
Solskjaer is reluctant to give that promise as he still sees David De Gea as his No.1 – despite the Spaniard’s run of high profile clangers this campaign.
Henderson has told friends that he is “desperate” to play for United, but he will look for a move elsewhere if he can’t depose De Gea.
And Chelsea would be favourites to land him if they table an offer of £55million for the keeper, who still has two years left on his current United contract.
Stamford Bridge boss Frank Lampard is looking for a new keeper after axing Kepa Arrizabalaga for Sunday’s final game of the season at home to Wolves, and has put Henderson at the top of his wish list.
Tottenham chief Jose Mourinho, who worked with Henderson during his time as manager at Old Trafford, is also interested.
But, even though the Special One rates Henderson as better than De Gea, he won’t get involved in a bidding war with his London rivals
Henderson kept 13 clean sheets in 36 games for the Blades this term, and Bramall Lane boss Chris Wilder would love to land him on loan for a third season.
And, while a move to Sheffield would appeal because it would keep Whitehaven-born Henderson close to his family and friends, the Yorkshire outfit could find it difficult to come up with the cash to finance a permanent deal.
Manchester United have yet to decide Henderson’s future, but the keeper is keen to get it sorted out before he goes on holiday later this week.