Chelsea are willing to offer several different players, including Tammy Abraham and Kepa Arrizabalaga, in a player-plus-cash offer for Harry Kane but fear Tottenham will not do business with them, sources have told ESPN.
A transfer is not straightforward given that Kane has three years remaining on his Spurs contract and chairman Daniel Levy is likely to demand a fee in the region of £150 million.
Kane believes there is an agreement in place with Levy that he would look favourably upon his desire to move on this summer, having agreed to stay an extra season after seeking a new club last year.
Potential suitors have therefore been encouraged that Levy may reluctantly sanction a move, although he would prefer not to strengthen a domestic rival -- a stance that arguably most acutely affects Chelsea.
A fractious relationship between the London clubs dates back to Levy's reluctance to sanction a move for Luka Modric to Chelsea in 2011 despite the midfielder expressing his desire to join them. Chelsea also beat Spurs to the signing of Willian.
Chelsea are mindful that Levy would need to rebuild in the wake of Kane's departure and believe Abraham and/or Kepa may offer some appeal.
Striker Abraham is available for transfer this summer, with Chelsea valuing the striker at £40m. That figure is based on his form prior to the coronavirus pandemic when he scored 15 times for Chelsea between August 2019 and March 2020 in addition to his first international goal for England.
However, his last Premier League goal came in December, and he has been frozen out under Thomas Tuchel. Relations have soured as Abraham's girlfriend Leah Monroe branded the decision to leave him out of the squad altogether for last weekend's FA Cup final as a "joke."
Abraham is clearly not at Kane's level, but he would at least be a like-for-like replacement with the potential to improve.
Goalkeeper Kepa has found himself behind Edouard Mendy in the pecking order under both Tuchel and his predecessor Frank Lampard. There is a recognition that given his £71.4m fee -- paid to Athletic Bilbao in 2018 -- they will have to take a significant financial hit, but using him as a makeweight to sign Kane could be a workable solution. The Spain international has made just 13 appearances for Chelsea all season.
One source has suggested Callum Hudson-Odoi could be another alternative given he has started just 10 Premier League games all season, although the club has previously rejected offers from Bayern Munich for the 20-year-old in the hopes he could yet thrive at Stamford Bridge.
The fact remains that whatever package Chelsea put together, City and United are ahead of them in the race given they do not have the same history or geographical proximity.