Chelsea's Eden Hazard. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Eden Hazard has no intention of signing a new Chelsea contract, even if the club try to play hard ball with Real Madrid by threatening to hold the Belgian to the final year of his deal.
And that is likely to force Chelsea to eventually accept an offer from Real, regardless of whether the Spaniards match their asking price.
Real are confident of landing Hazard and are keen to agree a deal quickly, but are reluctant to meet the £100m valuation put on him by Chelsea.
Hazard's incredible first goal and overall performance in the victory over West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday threatened to push the asking price even higher, but the player's refusal to reopen contract talks is expected to force the club's hand.
Chelsea have been backed further into a corner because Hazard has no plans to extend his contract past 2020, even if forced to stay.
It means Chelsea would risk losing him for free, even to an English rival, if they held him to his contract and rejected Real's interest.
Despite being keen to negotiate an amicable exit, Hazard is desperate to move to the Bernabeu this summer and fears that, aged 28, it may be his last chance to do so.
Chelsea have always insisted they would never consider a bid from Manchester City or another English rival for Hazard, but they stand to lose control of his future if they do not let him leave at the end of this season.
That is not a scenario they can risk, so Real are hopeful that a compromise can be reached as they step up their bid to make Hazard the first signing of the latest Zinedine Zidane era at the Bernabeu.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will try to sell Danny Drinkwater for a third transfer window in succession during the summer. Drinkwater has been charged with drink driving after crashing his car in the early hours of last Monday morning.
The club have not commented but are likely to fine the midfielder two weeks' wages, worth around £200,000, if found guilty.
Regardless of the verdict, the 29-year-old will once again be made available for transfer.
Drinkwater turned down several proposed loan and permanent moves last summer.