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Real Madrid and Chelsea to compete for Cruzeiro treasure Lucas Silva

Highly-rated Brazilian youngster Lucas Silva is reportedly being tracked by both Chelsea (6/1 with Coral to win the Champions League) and Real Madrid, and appears to be the latest must-have squad accessory for Europe’s elite.

The 21-year-old Cruzeiro talent is tipped to be at the very top of Los Blancos’ wishlist, with the Spanish capital side set to lose much of their midfield hustle and bustle if Sami Khedira moves on in January as expected.

Silva is more likely to be an overdue replacement for departed deep-lying playmaker Xabi Alonso than Khedira, however, having been likened to the Spanish conductor.

Primarily a defensive-minded player, Silva has notched up just three goals in 41 league games for Cruzeiro, but has illustrated he has an eye for a long-range shot. Moulded into a midfield marshal by his boyhood club, Silva is renowned for his ability to protect the ball and start attacks from deep, as well as being even-tempered and reliable in possession.

This promising future Samba Boys starlet is expected to earn his first senior cap soon, despite being overlooked by new Brazil boss Dunga when the defensive midfield legend picked his first squad.

Having already impressed for his nation in the youth set-up, any call-up would likely raise his pricetag substantially. This may mean Chelsea and Real will attempt to push through a deal in the winter window, even if the player is not eligible for a work permit immediately.

Lucas has a contract with the current Brazilian champions until 2017, so the Blues and Los Blancos will be expected to fork out a substantial fee to secure his services.

The Stamford Bridge club already have youth ranks filled to bursting with top prospects, and it is unlikely that Silva could force his way into a midfield that comprises of compatriot Oscar, Spain superstar Cesc Fabregas or Jose Mourinho favourite Nemanja Matic.

Real, on the other hand, do look likely to have a vacancy in midfield, with Khedira’s contract running out, Asier Illarramendi failing to impress, and the partnership of Luka Modric and Toni Kross often looking lightweight.

Chelsea have been strongly linked with luring Khedira to west London, as Blues boss Jose Mourinho previously worked with the German at the Bernabeu, and Madrid could ease that move along to divert their transfer rivals’ attention.

Whilst this could put Los Blancos ( joint favourites at 7/2 to win the Champions League) ahead in the race for Silva’s signature, Belo-Horizonte-based club Cruzeiro are aiming to seal their second consecutive league title, and will be loathe to let Europe steal one of their prize assets before the season is over.

If Lucas has aspirations to seal a starting spot in Dunga’s new-look Samba Boys selection, remaining Brazil-based for now may actually be more beneficial than risking being benched at Stamford Bridge or the Bernabeu.