There is further speculation about the future of Chelsea attacking midfielder Kevin de Bruyne after Bayer Leverkusen joined Werder Bremen in expressing their interest in the Belgium international. Before being named in the side to face Sunderland on Tuesday, De Bruyne had started just one match since being criticized by manager Jose Mourinho for his performance in the League Cup tie with Swindon in September. While Mourinho has recently made more positive comments about the 22-year-old’s development, he hasn’t featured at all in the Premier League since Sept. 21.

With the World Cup coming up next summer, De Bruyne will doubtless be fearful of a continuation of the situation jeopardizing his place in the Belgium side. Having spent an impressive loan spell at Werder Bremen last season, there is no shortage of interest in his services in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen were keen for De Bruyne to be included in the deal that took Andre Schurrle in the opposite direction in the summer and have hinted that they could make a renewed move when the transfer window reopens next month.

"We made no secret of our interest in Kevin De Bruyne right from last summer," sporting director Rudi Voller said, according to Sky Sports. "There are many clubs interested in him.

"Regardless of our league position, we're always looking for new players. It's possible that we do sign somebody this winter, but then again, we could go into the second half of the season with the same team and look to do something next summer. If you do anything, then it's got to be a top alternative to what we've already got here."

Ahead of the January transfer window, Mourinho has dismissed the idea of adding to his squad, but there continues to be speculation to the contrary. With Mourinho rotating between just three central defenders and rumors continuing about the future of David Luiz, a new center-back could be on the agenda.

Reports in both Italy and England have linked Chelsea with a move for Internazionale center-back Andrea Ranocchia. The 25-year-old, who has also been mentioned in connection with a move to Manchester United in the past, has reportedly agitated his club by stalling over the signing of a new contract. His performances for the Serie A side have done little to suggest that he will improve Chelsea’s squad, however.

Respected Sky Italy reported Gianluca di Marzio believes that Ranocchia was one of the topics of conversation during a recent visit by Inter directors to Stamford Bridge. The main focus of the talks, however, was said to be Fredy Guarin. The Inter midfielder has also been linked with Manchester United, but The Guardian has reported that Chelsea are now keenly pursuing a £15 million deal for the Colombia international.

The Guardian’s story claims that Mourinho also hopes to recruit highly rated St Etienne defender Kurt Zouma. The center-back was a part of France’s Under-20 World Cup winning side in the summer and has also been linked with both Arsenal and Manchester United. His progress has been halted this season as the result of a 10-game suspension for a tackle which broke the leg of an opposition player.

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