Brighton have rejected a £70 million second offer from Chelsea for Moises Caicedo, who is the top target for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as they look to rebuild their midfield.

The bid comes after weeks of talks between the two clubs, and Chelsea are expected to return with an improved third bid before the start of the Premier League campaign.

Brighton remain interested in signing Chelsea centre-back Levi Colwill on a permanent basis and the 20-year-old could be key to any possible deal for Caicedo.

Chelsea have insisted throughout the summer that Colwill, who impressed on loan at Brighton last season, is not for sale, but Brighton are still hoping to bring him back to the south coast.

Chelsea’s need to strengthen in the heart of the pitch was made clear by their travelling squad to their pre-season tour of the United States. Of their six listed midfielders, three are teenagers and two have never played for the club.

Midfielders Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all left Chelsea since the turn of the year.

Caicedo is understood to be keen to make the move to Stamford Bridge but Brighton will only sell at the right price and, as reported by Telegraph Sport earlier this month, they value the midfielder at more than £100 million.

Caicedo will be part of Brighton’s pre-season tour of the US and could play against Chelsea when the two teams meet in a friendly fixture in Philadelphia this weekend.

Arsenal failed with a £70 million bid for Caicedo in January and there has also been interest from Bayern Munich in the 21-year-old, although the German side are regarded as unlikely to make a formal bid this summer.

Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi has said the club will not stand in Caicedo’s way if a transfer materialises this summer, even admitting in May that the Ecuador international might have played his last game for the club.