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Chelsea looking to win race to sign Juan Iturbe – another ‘new Messi’

Juan Iturbe has helped his newly-promoted on-loan side Hellas Verona to seventh place in Serie A – with five goals and two assists – who are level on points with Parma for a Europa League spot and just one behind Italian giants Inter Milan.

The Argentina-declared winger – who played once for Paraguay in a friendly aged 16 – is owned by FC Porto, but their former manager Jose Mourinho is looking to use his connections to sign the 20-year-old.

Chelsea, who are 5/4 favourites to win the Premier League, are hoping to bolster their side and get ahead of their rivals for next season as the title-race is closer than it has been for many years, with four clubs still well in contention.

The Blues are reportedly ahead in the chase to sign Iturbe, with the likes of Liverpool (11/2 to win the league) and Arsenal (20/1) also keen suitors, while Everton (16/1 for a top four finish), Juventus and Roma are in the hunt as well. Verona also hope to extend his loan spell for another year.

It would be a massive blow to Brendan Rodgers if he were to lose out on yet another player to Chelsea, with Willian and Mohamed Salah favouring a move to Stamford Bridge over Anfield this season instead.

Iturbe has taken over the mantle from former Verona midfielder Jorginho, who left for Europa League second-favourites Napoli (6/1) in January. The Brazilian-born Italy Under-21 international managed seven goals and four assists in 18 Serie A matches in the first half of the season, and Hellas are looking to be getting the most out of their young talent.

Likened to Lionel Messi – as many young players are these days – Iturbe would face heavy competition for a starting place at Chelsea if he were to join. The likes of Willian and Salah, as well as Oscar, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle would stand in his way.