The 27-year-old Moroccan was one of the stars of the Rome giants’ impressive 2013/14 campaign, helping them to seal a return to the Champions League after a lengthy absence.
However, he is thought to be ready to leave after failing to agree a new contract at the Stadio Olimpico.
A host of English teams have been linked with him, and now Chelsea lead the race.
Manchester City were rumoured to be keen, but with the imminent arrival of Eliaquim Mangala, their interest is set to cool.
Benatia himself is thought to favour west London anyway, and is excited about a potential link-up with Jose Mourinho.
Despite swooping for Kurt Zouma, ‘The Special One’ is thought to be keen on the 27-year-old, as he plots to ensure that John Terry and Gary Cahill have adequate cover following the exit of David Luiz.
Benatia almost signed for Chelsea earlier in his career from Marseille, but pulled out of the deal due to fears of homesickness.