If rumors are to be believed, English Premier League heavyweights, Chelsea, are reportedly preparing a £20 million bid for Newcastle United's Ivorian defensive midfielder Cheick Tiote, ahead of the January transfer window.

The former FC Twente player has adapted impressively quickly to life in the Premier League and has recently signed a long-term contract with the Magpies. The club sees Tiote as an essential part of its future. However, Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has apparently made the player his top New Year target and knows that he faces competition from Manchester United.

Newcastle has warned interested clubs that they will have to spend big in order to acquire Tiote's services; the club paid Twente a mere £3.5m to acquire his services, only 16 months ago. The Tyneside club's manager, Alan Pardew, is not against a January departure and will look to spend the money from any possible sale to reinforce the club.

Villas-Boas is reportedly looking to Tiote as cover for Michael Essien, who is out with a long-term injury and although he has options, in the form of John Obi Mikel and Antonio Ramires, it seems he thinks he could do better. Tiote has actually been tracked by Chelsea since the Carlo Ancelloti era, according to a Caughtoffside report.

Cheick Ismael Tiote, who arrived at St James' Park from Twente in 2010, has made 37 appearances for the Magpies and is a regular in the Newcastle first team.