CHELSEA want to gazump Liverpool over their hunt for Brighton defender Ben White - and ditch Antonio Rudiger in the process.
Leeds United have already had two bids turned down for the player who was a success on loan at Elland Road last term.
Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa had converted him into a defensive midfielder but he is comfortable there or at centre-back.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp wanted the 22-year-old as back-up to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip after losing Dejan Lovren this summer.
But Blues boss Frank Lampard is desperate for defensive reinforcements and will go higher than the £20million Anfield bean-counters will pay in an auction.
The Merseysiders have cut back on their spending after blowing £280m in 2018 alone.
That gives Lamps the chance to get his man.
Rudiger, 27, could go back to Germany after a series of defensive howlers, including in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.
The Germany international cost £32.4m from Roma in 2017.
Having watched Bayern Munich stick SEVEN past his side over two games, Lampard knows he needs a whole new defence.
Kurt Zouma has also blundered, while Andreas Christensen has been in and out of the side and Lamps clearly does not have much confidence in all his central defenders.
He also needs a left-back to replace Marcus Alonso.
But Brighton are determined to hang on to their prize asset.
Seagulls boss wants him for their Premier League campaign next term.
However, a huge bid could tempt the club to sell.
They will want £40m for the youngster - and that is a price Chelsea will pay.
White was one of the main reasons Leeds won the Championship title last term - and they will also enter the bidding war after seeing a second bid of £22m turned down by Albion.