Chelsea have agreed an undisclosed fee for Hamburg's Dutch international Khalid Boulahrouz.
Boulahrouz, who can play in centre-back or left-back, was known as 'Khalid the Cannibal' by Hamburg fans who loved his aggressive tackling style.
The 25-year-old will be in London this weekend to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms.
He started his career in Holland with RKC Waalwijk and he moved to Hamburg two years ago.
Jose Mourinho is short of defenders after selling Asier del Horno to Valencia and allowing Glen Johnson to leave on loan.
William Gallas, who is out of contract next year, also wants to quit Stamford Bridge and has fallen out with Mourinho after reporting late for pre-season.
Mourinho's move for Ashley Cole has ground to a halt but the Blues remain confident of signing the Arsenal full-back.
Boulahrouz's arrival is unlikely to affect Chelsea's pursuit of Cole.
Boulahrouz made his international debut in 2004 and has established himself in the Holland team since Marco van Basten took control.
He played in the World Cup finals in Germany and was one of the players sent off against Portugal in the fiery second round clash, when both teams finished with nine men.
Boulahrouz was accused of deliberately trying to injure Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in that game with a thigh-high challenge.
Chelsea's assistant manager Steve Clarke told Chelsea TV: 'He is a good competitive player and will be a good addition to our squad.
'He can play centre-back or either full-back. I think he is right-footed and it is important to have one or two players around the squad who can play in a number of different positions.'
Clarke confirmed the arrival of Boulahrouz will not end the proposed move for Cole.
The Scot said: 'Until the end of August we will be looking for good players.
'If Boulahrouz is the only one we can add to the squad we will be happy with that.
'If we can get someone else, we will get someone else.'