Why Chelsea must beat Manchester United to this world class, £30m defender

Mehdi Benatia playing for Morocco

Chelsea are believed to be close to beating Manchester United to the signing of Roma defender Mehdi Benatia.

The Blues ended Jose Mourinho's first season back at Stamford Bridge without a trophy, and in a bid to win some silverware this time around, Chelsea have splashed the cash on Atletico Madrid duo Filipe Luis and Diego Costa, Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, and former Chelsea hero Didier Drogba.

Whilst much of the focus has been on adding players who can score goals, some fans have long believed that the club need to sign another centre back – so they will ultimately be happy to hear that the club are thought to be closing in on the capture of Moroccan international Mehdi Benatia from Roma.

The 27-year-old has really established himself as one of the top central defenders in Europe over the past year, having turned in a number of exceptional displays for Roma. The former Udinese man is valued at around £30m, and reports suggest that Mourinho could tie up his latest signing before next Monday's Premier League opener against Burnley.

The news would serve as a blow to Manchester United, who had also been looking to sign Benatia – but Chelsea must push ahead and beat the Red Devils to his signature.

Chelsea are solid defensively under Mourinho, but a new face wouldn't go amiss. After all, John Terry turns 34 in December and is heading towards the end of his playing days, whilst youngster Kurt Zouma may need some developing given that he's only 19.

The sale of David Luiz to Paris Saint-Germain leaves Chelsea a little short at centre back, and whilst Branislav Ivanovic can fill in there too, he's been more impressive at right back. A big name centre back like Benatia would make Chelsea's defence even stronger, and the Moroccan - who excels mentally, technically and athletically - would be the perfect addition to an already star-studded Chelsea team.

A deal appears to be close, but if United were to steal him from under Chelsea's noses, the Blues would almost certainly live to regret it.

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