Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chelsea swoop for Angel Di Maria

Chelsea are in talks with Real Madrid over a double deal for defender Pepe and winger Angel Di Maria, according to reports in Spain. Sources last week had claimed Andre Villas-Boas wants to make Pepe his first signing as Chelsea manager, with speculation continuing about the 28-year-old's future at the Bernabeu. Chelsea are also looking to lure Angel Di Maria away from the Spanish capital this summer. Di Maria has only been at the club twelve months after joining last summer in a €25million move from Benfica. But recently he spoke of how he wanted improved terms on his six-year deal, with his comments leaving Real unhappy after he went public with his demands. The club are also prepared to sell Pepe should he refuse to sign a new contract as he only has twelve months left on his existing deal. Chelsea are believed to be ready to offer Pepe €5m a year if he moves to Stamford Bridge - a considerably more than the €4m which is believed to be Real Madrid's maximum offer.

Murmours from the Chelsea camp

Villas-Boas has been assessing his squad and by the time they leave for their Far East tour a week on Monday, he is expected to have drawn up a list of the players he wants, and those he does not. Several players, including striker Nicolas Anelka and winger Florent Malouda, both of whom had inconsistent campaigns last year, are believed to be particularly under the microscope. Full-back Yuri Zhirkov and Portuguese defender Jose Bosingwa also fall into that group. Several Major League clubs in the USA are watching Anelka, as are his former club Paris Saint-Germain, while Malouda is a target for Fiorentina and Real Madrid. Turkish club Besiktas have already bid for Bosingwa, while Zhirkov is expected to return to Russia with Spartak Moscow. Porto have offered Chelsea target Radamel Falcao a new contract, but the £27million Colombian striker wants to move to London so a deal is still likely. Meanwhile, Chelsea have appointed former first-team coach Michael Emenalo as their new sporting director, with responsibility for scouting, academy and youth programmes - but not transfer policy, which will be in the hands of manager Villas-Boas.

source: Daily Express

More on Essien's set-back

Chelsea were hit with a potential crisis last night as Michael Essien went down with what could be a season-wrecking knee injury. Ghana midfielder Michael Essien was taken to hospital on Thursday after twisting his knee in training. Last night there were real concerns for Essien’s future, with him having sustained serious injuries to both knees in the past three years. He had tests and will have more scans today. Initial fears are that Essien has once again damaged cruciate ligaments, which would mean a minimum of six months out. The loss of Essien is a major setback to Villas-Boas, who may now have to reshape his transfer policy to include the recruitment of another central midfielder. Villas-Boas, who has had his squad back for just a week, has only one other holding midfielder in John Obi Mikel. Yet he had a poor season last year so efforts to land Porto’s Joao Moutinho could now be stepped up.

source: Daily Express

Friday, July 8, 2011

Essien injures knee in training

Chelsea have confirmed midfielder Michael Essien suffered a knee injury during pre-season training this week. The 28-year-old Ghana midfielder, who missed much of the 2008/2009 campaign after sustaining anterior cruciate ligament damage while on international duty, will be assessed by the club's medical staff before any further prognosis. A statement on reads: "Michael Essien suffered an injury to his right knee during training this week. He will undergo tests over the next few days to determine the extent of that injury. Until we have the full results of those tests we will not be commenting further." Essien also missed the 2010 World Cup because of a knee problem, and the midfielder's fresh injury represents an early blow to new Chelsea manager Andre Villa-Boas, who is preparing his squad for their trip to the Far East where they will compete in the Asia Cup.

Missing out on Neymar is no big deal

Since last year the rumors about the young Brazilian sensation Neymar, have had him set for a move to Stamford Bridge. With the offensive tactics of Andre Villas-Boas now commanding the club, the speculation has only intensified. The skill and creativity in his play would attract defenders and open up runs for Torres as well as create more space for Lampard to be more involved in the final third. After two long years it looks like Chelsea will lose out on the young prodigy, as recent rumors have the Spanish giants Real Madrid the front runners to sign him. The Spanish newspaper Marca reports that the 19 year-old personally prefers Los Blancos. In a conversation he had with Brazilian team mate Dani Alves, Neymar said "I do not know anything about Barcelona. Next year I want to play for Real Madrid." There are plenty of reasons to sign him, but there are also reasons why not to. He is young, extremely talented and certainly has a bright future in the game. All of this comes with baggage that, some might say, make his absence better for the club overall...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Saints to land midfielder Jack Cork

Southampton are set to win the race for Chelsea midfielder Jack Cork. Cork has been resigned to leaving Chelsea as he is well down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. A host of Championship clubs have been chasing the highly-rated England Under 21 international this summer. Cork, who spent last season on loan at Burnley, has attracted interest from the likes of the Clarets, Nottingham Forest and Blackpool, but Southampton are closing on the 21-year-old's signature. Southampton boss Nigel Adkins is a big admirer of the versatile performer and sees him as a key addition as he plans for next season back in the Championship. Cork enjoyed a loan spell at Southampton during the 2008/09 season and he is expected to seal a return to St Mary's this week.

source: Sky Sports

Modric going nowhere ...yet

Tottenham's Luka Modric has been told by his chairman, Daniel Levy, that he is not up for sale. This was the clear message this evening as the pair met London. Despite this, the club may step up interest in Joe Cole as a replacement for Modric, should the playmaker finally decide to leave for Chelsea. Cole had a disappointing season in Merseyside and Redknapp sees him as a natural replacement for the Croatian star. Harry Redknapp has himself reiterated that Modric would not be sold to Chelsea, or anywhere, though recent comments seemed less decisive. "It's difficult when crazy sums of money are being bandied about but we need to keep Luka and all our best players if we are to improve. We certainly don't want to sell him," the manager said. Chelsea have already made a £22m bid for the star and, despite it being rejected, are expected to increase this to nearer £30m. If reports are true that Tottenham are already lining up a replacement in Cole, Chelsea may indeed get their wish and purchase the Croatian. Today as Modric boarded a plane for London, the star appeared open with regards to his future. "Anything is possible" he said.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Falcao admits he wants dream transfer

Chelsea’s hopes of signing Porto striker Falcao were given a major boost this evening as he spoke of his dream to play in the Premier League. Colombian international Falcao has a release clause of £27 million which, according to Porto, is not for negotiation. Real Madrid are also interested but Falcao, who excelled last season at Porto under Andre Villas-Boas, has indicated his desire to team up again with his former manager. Falcao scored 33 goals last season and believes he is ready to step up to both the Premier and Champions League. Porto are keen to ensure Villas-Boas does not raid the club in the same way that José Mourinho did when he moved to Stamford Bridge in 2004, taking Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho with him. Falcao's strike partner Hulk, who scored 23 league goals last season, has also been linked with a mega-money move to Stamford Bridge, although the figures suggested are ridiculous.

source: Telegraph

Chelsea stars return to training

A glance across Chelsea's lush green training facility in the wealthy Surrey area of Cobham this morning, and one could be forgiven for thinking one of the players was dressed in the wrong kit. But look closer at the dashing young gentleman in the blue pullover barking orders, and it becomes apparent that he isn't just another player, but in fact the 33-year-old Portuguese manager who is charged with keeping united one of most powerful dressing rooms in the Premier League. Andres Villas-Boas took his team of experienced internationals, title winners and Champions League finalists for training for the first time today. And so far, so good. Questions have been raised about how a former manager's assistant would handle the the likes of Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard, some of whom Villas-Boas would have shared a classroom with had they gone to the same school. He comes with pedigree, certainly, but Carlo Ancelotti, a man with a decade in management at the very highest level, and a stellar playing career to boot, struggled to maintain the respect of those on the field after the first bump in the road.

Juventus target John Obi Mikel

Italian giants Juventus are interested in bringing Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel to Serie A. The 24-year-old is the target of a £15 million bid from the Old Lady, according to reports in the Italian media. New Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is said to be happy for the Nigerian international to leave at the price. Juve plan to team the Blues midfielder with veteran AC Milan star Andrea Pirlo. Mikel would play the role of defensive enforcer alongside the World Cup-winning playmaker. The sticking point for the Italian club could be Mikel's lack of an EU passport. Serie A sides are only allowed to sign one new non-EU player from a club outside Italian football, and signing Mikel could limit their transfer activity for the rest of the summer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Players to meet backroom staff at Cobham

André Villas-Boas will address his Chelsea first-team squad for the first time tomorrow and stress a belief that he and his newly assembled backroom staff can draw 'something extra' even from experienced players who have enjoyed glittering careers to bolster the club's challenge for silverware next season. The players, with the exception of Ramires and David Luiz who are competing with Brazil at the Copa América in Argentina, are due back at Cobham to begin preparations for the new campaign and will be welcomed by their new backroom personnel. Villas-Boas intends to call a team meeting where he will introduce his No2 Roberto Di Matteo, the physical fitness coach, José Mário Rocha, and the opposition scout, Daniel Sousa, all newly arrived or restored to the club, together with Steve Holland, promoted from reserve team coach, and explain to the players what duties each of his technical staff will undertake. The 33-year-old's message will echo the philosophy outlined last week when he was formally unveiled as Carlo Ancelotti's successor at Stamford Bridge and this club's seventh manager in eight years.

source: The Guardian

Chase for Palermo star hots up

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has warned Chelsea, and other clubs interested in signing Javier Pastore, they must make their move in the next 15 days. The Blues baulked at the Italian club's incredible £44m asking price earlier this summer but have maintained an interest in the midfielder, who is also believed to be on the radar of Spanish trio Barcelona, Real Madrid and Malaga. Zamparini said: 'The only Palermo player that is in the market is Pastore. The situation must be resolved in the next 15 days, otherwise, the player will remain with us. Before the Copa America ends, Pastore’s future must be decided. There is a 90 per cent chance that Pastore will leave because that is his desire and when you hear about the clubs that want him it’s only normal.' Palermo confirmed last month they had received a 50m euros bid from an unnamed club to acquire the 22-year-old's services. The highly-rated playmaker, who is currently competing at the Copa America, joined Palermo in 2009 from Huracan for 19m euros and was the team's leading scorer in Serie A last season with 11 goals.

source: Daily Mail

Are Chelsea desperate for Dann?

Andre Villas-Boas will watch Birmingham videos in order to fully evaluate defender Scott Dann. Chelsea boss Villas-Boas wants a British centre-back and has three on his list: Bolton's Gary Cahill, Everton's versatile Jack Rodwell and Dann. But it is understood he will make a detailed assessment of Dann by studying film of 10 City games. Villas-Boas has a reputation for forensic detail and has received excellent reviews about the Birmingham star. The Portuguese manager is keen to bolster his defence with a Brit who is dominant in the air after concerns Chelsea were exposed too often at set-pieces last season. Dann, 24, was highly-rated at Birmingham but missed the last four months of the season because of a hamstring injury and his team were relegated.

source: The Sun

Blues boss targets Portuguese defender

Chelsea are readying a bid for Read Madrid star Pepe, as Andre Villas-Boas aims to create some competition for John Terry and David Luiz. The Portuguese centre-half may look for a move if Real do not match his contract demands - the Portuguese defender is reportedly worth £4.5 million a year in salaries - which has opened up the possibility of a switch to play under his fellow-countryman. But there are hurdles in the deal, with Villas-Boas reportedly seeing Pepe as more of a holding midfielder than the star’s preferred position as a central defender. It will pave the way for plenty of activity in the next few weeks as the new boss begins to ­exercise extraordinary power given to him by club owner Roman Abramovich. The new Chelsea boss has been given a free hand to do what he wants with the squad he was left by Carlo Ancelotti, with Abramovich effectively conceding he is not the right man to make football decisions. Abramovich has decided to throw his backing entirely behind the youngest manager in the Premier League, believing the 33-year-old Portuguese will deliver not just winning football but an expansive, attacking approach.

source: Daily Mirror

Monday, July 4, 2011

'I've made mistakes' admits Cole

Chelsea and England defender Ashley Cole says people should judge him on his football, not reports about his private life. Cole, who has attracted a number of negative headlines, said: "I've made mistakes and have just got to live with it" he added: "Judge me on how I play football or on when you meet me." His remarks come after new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas said he wanted his players to be role models. Cole's conduct was questioned this year when he shot a work experience student with an air rifle at the club's training ground. The England international, 30, also went through a very public divorce from pop star wife Cheryl last year. Earlier in his career, he was fined £100,000 by the Premier League for holding secret talks with Chelsea while still under contract to former club Arsenal. In an exclusive interview in New York, which will be aired on BBC's Football Focus in the coming weeks, the left-back said his mother found it difficult to read some of the stories written about him.

source: BBC

Sturridge bandwagon rolls on to Anfield

Liverpool are reportedly set to mount an audacious attempt to lure Chelsea youngster Daniel Sturridge to Anfield. The England Under 21 international is a player that boss Kenny Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli are interested in bringing to Anfield and may feel they have a decent shot at landing the striker as his first team chances seem set to become even more limited that previously. Newly installed Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas apparently has no intention of selling either Fernando Torres or Didier Drogba, but may listen to offers for French international Nicolas Anelka, however the FC Porto boss is reportedly keen on signing his star striker Falcao and/or Santos star Neymar and therefore Sturridge may well find it tough to break into the first team. Liverpool are said to have made a move for Sturridge last January but at the time Chelsea were only willing to farm out the former Man City man out on loan and the 21 year old made a big impression at Bolton where he netted eight goals from 11 starts at the Reebok Stadium side.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nicolas Anelka set to be 'offered for transfer'

Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka is reportedly set to be the first player to leave Stamford Bridge under new manager Andre Villas-Boas. Reports suggest that Villas-Boas is looking to buy another striker before Chelsea leave for their Far East tour, with Porto’s Falcao amongst the top targets. The Blues also plan to snap up highly-rated Anderlecht youngster Romelu Lukaku. That would leave Chelsea with a surplus of forwards and it has been rumoured that Didier Drogba would be sold to his former club Marseille. With this move looking unlikely, it seems that 32-year-old Anelka may be the one in the firing line. Whatever happens, it would appear that Anelka’s days as a Blue are numbered anyway, as the Portuguese manager favours a 4-3-3 formation, something that does not suit the French striker. It is thought Paris Saint-Germain is Anelka's most likely destination, as the club he has enjoyed previous spells with have recently been taken over by a Qatari investment fund and have a huge transfer budget.

Fabio Coentrao deal moves closer

Chelsea's hopes of landing Fabio Coentrao have been boosted after it was revealed that Real Madrid's move for the Benfica defender is in tatters. Jose Mourinho was set to sign the left-back for a fee of about £21million but complications delayed the deal and now Benfica chairman Luis Filipe Vieira has told Madrid to trigger the defender's £25m release clause or forget it. But it is unclear whether Madrid want to pay the full amount, especially having previously agreed a lower fee for the player. Now new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas wants the 23-year-old - and the confusion with Real Madrid could allow him to snatch Coentrao from under the nose of his former boss Mourinho. Although Villas-Boas already boasts Ashley Cole in his squad, it is understood that he wants to sign his compatriot Coentrao because of his versatility in defence and midfield.

source: News of the World

Anderlecht: no formal offer for Lukaku

Anderlecht understand that Chelsea still want Romelu Lukaku despite the change of manager at Stamford Bridge but have told the Blues to make a decent offer. The 18-year-old striker, who has already been capped at senior international level by Belgium and is regarded as an extremely bright prospect for the future, looked set to join Chelsea earlier in the summer. A deal did not materialise as quickly as expected and some reports have claimed that new boss Andre Villas-Boas is less keen to bring in the teenager. Anderlecht insist Villas-Boas is a fan of Lukaku but are determined to get a fair price and are thought to value their prize asset at around £20million. Anderlecht president Roger Vanden Stock maintains that Chelsea have not yet made a formal offer and may have to wait until next summer unless they step up their interest.

David Luiz excited by new era

David Luiz is bracing himself for the Villas-Boas era at Chelsea and ­predicts a more thrilling ride than the glory days of Jose Mourinho. Most of the Stamford Bridge stars head back this week for pre-season training, where they will meet their new boss. Luiz however, is on the other side of the world with Brazil for the Copa America in Argentina, so will have to wait. Brazil are reigning South American ­champions and are favourites to retain their crown. Luiz, who joined Chelsea last ­season from Benfica and is one of the most exciting ­defenders in the world, has been asking Portuguese pals what he can expect from the new coach when he gets back. He said: “I have spoken to my friends back in Portugal and I hear the same thing from ­everyone. They all say how Andre is very hands-on with the ­players and he gets his point across from day one. That is very positive at a club that dreams of titles. I’ve not worked with Mourinho, but my friends say Villas-Boas is more attack-minded. Perhaps that signifies a change in system for Chelsea in the new season.”

Chelsea in for Walcott amidst Wenger doubt

Chelsea are about to add further misery to Arsenal's summer by launching a bid for Theo Walcott. With the unsettled Samir Nasri looking like he's heading to Manchester City along with Gael Clichy, and Cesc Fabregas looking certain to join Barcelona, the loss of a fourth key player would be a body blow at the Emirates. The winger has an uneasy relationship with Wenger mainly because he feels he has not been given the first-team opportunities this year and paid the price in the final sprint. But the bad news has not stopped manager Arsene Wenger committing his future to the club, as he insisted he was trying hard to bring in new players. But Wenger has been linked to Paris St-Germain, who have been bought by Qatari Sports Investment, and has made no secret of his desire to return one day to his home town of Strasbourg and help the ailing club. The Frenchman, who came in for criticism last week as the prospect of losing midfielders Fabregas and Nasri and defender Clichy grew more likely, urged Gunners fans to be patient over the club's transfer strategy. 'I'm very happy at Arsenal,' said Wenger. 'One sign of intelligence in life is to not always to want what you don't have. Appreciate what you have.'

source: Daily Mail