The Guardian says the Croat, so impressive in the 3-2 defeat of England at Wembley last month, has long been on Chelsea's radar. It had been expected that Modric would move at the end of the season - Frank Lampard, after all, has suspended talks over a new contract until the summer prompting uncertainty over his long-term future at the club.

The Dinamo Zagreb vice-president Zdravko Mamic, who also acts as Modric's personal manager, returned to London on Boxing Day and intends to hold talks with numerous Premier League clubs over his player's future over the next few days. Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham would compete in that pursuit, though Chelsea remain favourites to secure the 22-year-old for all that they would be reluctant to match Dinamo's £20m valuation.