Abramovich makes move for Parma's £12m Mutu in sights

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The Independent Football

The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, has opened talks with Parma in an attempt to sign Adrian Mutu in a £12m deal following the collapse of Christian Vieri's transfer from Internazionale.

The price would seem to be a fair one to see if the Romanian international striker, who is 24, can fulfil his potential at Stamford Bridge, with Parma prepared to sell him after one season of promise which was, ultimately, without real success. In his wandering career, the talented but erratic Mutu has also been at Inter and Verona, where his skills were not matched by his goal return.

Mutu managed to score five times in 15 games for Parma last season in a campaign dogged by injury, but he undoubtedly has the type of flair to fit in with the new-look Chelsea team.

Abramovich has received the seal of approval from the Football Association's new chief executive, Mark Palios, who, when asked if he had any concerns over the Russian oil magnate, said: "Not of his arrival. If you were to say that the Premiership would become the playground of 10 Russian or other ethnic billionaires, then I might have a concern as it might distort the level playing field.

"But for one or two guys coming in and doing this, then I think it just adds to the competition and I'm pretty pleased to see it happening. My personal view is that it is has provided a fillip to a pretty moribund transfer market."

Mark Viduka was also linked with Chelsea yesterday - albeit by his own agent. If he does leave Elland Road, the Leeds manager, Peter Reid, may have Lamine Sakho to replace him. The Marseilles striker flew in for talks with Reid in Dublin last night after pulling out of his club's opening home fixture at the Stade Velodrome. Sakho, 25, fits the bill perfectly for Leeds as he can move either on a season-long loan or for a play-now-pay-later arrangement. He has previously played at Lens and Nîmes.

Sunderland's players have agreed to defer payment of part of their wages to help ease the club's financial problems. The wage deferral will also apply to directors and senior management at the Stadium of Light.

John Fashanu will face a Nigerian FA inquiry in October over recent match-fixing allegations against him.

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