Chelsea have renewed their interest in Ross Barkley, and would rather pay a fee to secure his services in the January transfer window rather than wait for his Everton contract to expire next summer.

That’s according to The Telegraph, who report that the Blues are firmly in the driving seat to sign the 24-year-old next month. Competitors to the midfielder’s signature, such as Tottenham, would rather pick up the England international on a free transfer when his contract expires, the publication reports, with the Blues willing to splash the cash to beat out their rivals.

Barkley told Everton he wanted away from Goodison Park last summer, and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were expected to snare the star after the Toffees refused to offer him a contract extension. However, the 24-year-old ultimately turned down a dramatic move to Stamford Bridge on transfer deadline day, stating that he wanted more time to regain his fitness before he considered his long-term future.

With the 22-times-capped England star close to returning from the hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined throughout the current campaign, he and Everton will soon have a massive decision to make about where his future lies.