Press Watch: McClaren joins Eriksson on Chelsea's managerial wish list

Abramovich offers £20m for the Sevilla striker Reyes

It was almost inevitable that Chelsea's mid-season mini-slump would again raise the spectre of a Roman Abramovich axe hanging over Claudio Ranieri's head.

First to dust down the splash headlines is the Sunday People, but with an interesting twist to the usual rumour that Sven Goran Eriksson will replace the Italian coach. The People says not only does Abramovich have the England coach in mind to take Ranieri's place, he also wants Steve McClaren, the man most strongly tipped to succeed Eriksson as national manager, to be Eriksson's No 2. He is apparently prepared to pay the Middlesbrough man as much as any in the Premiership manager to ensure he and Eriksson are in place at Stamford Bridge by 1 August.

Meanwhile, others predict that Ranieri will continue to enjoy a steady supply of incoming big name players. The Mail on Sunday puts Chelsea level-pegging with Manchester United and ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool in the chase for the West Ham striker Jermain Defoe, suggesting Abramovich will clinch the deal with an £8 million offer.

According to the People, United have told West Ham that a £12m asking price is too high and also rate Mark Viduka and Louis Saha as overvalued, having been quoted £7m by Leeds and £10m by Fulham for the pair. The Mirror reckons Fulham have lined up Arsenal's Sylvain Wiltord should they lose Saha.

The People says Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri are still on Chelsea's shopping list but the News of the World believes the next big signing at the Bridge could be the Sevilla striker Jose Antonio Reyes, a 20-year-old for whom Abramovich is supposedly ready to offer £20m.

The Russian's interest in Wayne Rooney has not faded, according to the Sunday Express, which says a £30m bid next summer for the Everton prodigy is still on the cards and claims Chelsea would have made a similar offer for Rio Ferdinand had the Manchester United defender escaped suspension over his missed drugs test.

Patrick Kluivert is reported by the News of the World to have told friends he is ready to join Arsenal but a less expected departure from Barcelona is predicted by The People, which reports an ambitious attempt by Birmingham City to persuade the ex-Arsenal winger Marc Overmars to swap Catalonia for the West Midlands.

More realistic, perhaps, is the News of the World line that Birmingham will pay £5m to make Mikael Forssell a permanent signing from Chelsea.

Desperate Wolves so want to add experience to their squad, says the People, that they are prepared to pick up Duncan Ferguson's entire £35,000-a-week wages to facilitate the former Scotland international striker's move on loan from Everton. The same paper says Celtic, one of a number of clubs linked with the Nottingham Forest midfielder Andy Reid, may be prepared to sell the ex-Leicester winger Steve Guppy to Wigan.

Fabrizio Ravanelli, out of work again after his latest club, Dundee United, had to lay him off, could turn up at Port Vale, according to the News of the World, following the purchase of the Potteries club for a mere £600,000 by his former agent, Gianni Paladini.

The Mirror says that Stuart Pearce, currently coaching at Manchester City, could be offered a management position as replacement for Iain Dowie at Oldham.

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