Andrei Shevchenko will fly into Milan this morning from Kiev to announce whether or not he is going to become a Chelsea player. Even last night, advisers close to the 29-year-old Ukrainian said they were unsure as to what his decision will be but sources at Chelsea, and close to owner Roman Abramovich, remain confident that, finally, they will land their No 1 target.
Any deal to acquire Shevchenko will cost around £34m. Chelsea will also have to match the astonishing contract the striker was offered last Friday when Milan declared they were willing to give him a two-year extension, taking him to 2011, on a salary of €6m, or £4m a year after tax. That was a surprise development and has made Shevchenko's transfer less certain.
Abramovich has been conducting negotiations with his favourite footballer personally and had felt certain that he had an agreement for him to move to Stamford Bridge after three previous bids failed. Shevchenko had announced he was looking to leave Italy, after seven years, for personal reasons. His wife, the American model Kirsten Pazik is understood to be particularly keen to leave Italy and her feelings may prove decisive.
If, however, Shevchenko agrees to stay at Milan following his scheduled meeting with the club's vice-president, Adriano Galliano, it will be an embarrassment to Abramovich and will end, once and for all, the chances of the striker coming to Chelsea.
Milan fans, meanwhile, have created a website "shevarestaconnoi.com" (shevastaywithus.com) in the hope of persuading him to remain at the club. A statement read: "We are waiting for you after the World Cup, still in a Milan shirt, to continue the dream." Chelsea have accepted a £5.5m bid from Wigan Athletic for their defender Robert Huth, who is keen to leave in search of first-team football. The German international is also attracting keen interest from Newcastle United, although they are unlikely to match Wigan's offer for the 21-year-old who made only seven starts last season.
However, it is understood that his agent Manfred Schult is keen for the player to keep his options open until after the World Cup and is hoping to secure him a move to a Bundesliga club.
Also leaving Chelsea is Eidur Gudjohnsen, with his father, and agent, Arnor saying yesterday that the 27-year-old would be keen to move to Barcelona if they wanted to lodge a bid. "He wants to leave Chelsea," Arnor told Radio Barcelona. "He wants to go to a club where he can win lots of titles and Barça could be the one." Barcelona's preferred target appears to be Villarreal's Diego Forlan.
Tottenham Hotspur are close to securing the £2m transfer of Carlton Cole, who has also been told he can leave, while Glen Johnson is likely to be loaned out for next season. Both William Gallas and Didier Drogba are desperate to quit Chelsea and their futures should become clear in the next few days.
Roberto Carlos has told Chelsea that he wants to wait until after the World Cup to decide his future. The 33-year-old Brazilian has been offered a two-year contract, with the option of a third year by the London club, but is hoping that Real Madrid will match it.
* Jose Mourinho has won the battle to sign Nigerian teenager John Obi Mikel, according to reports last night. Chelsea will pay £12m for his services £10m to Manchester United, who thought they had signed the player, and £2m to his Norwegian club Lyn Oslo.Reuse content