Abramovich pulling strings in Carlos deal

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The Independent Online

Chelsea are to push ahead with their interest in signing Roberto Carlos from Real Madrid - with the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, rather than the manager, Jose Mourinho, emerging as the driving force behind the deal.

If the 33-year-old left-back signs for the Premiership champions it will be the second major transfer this summer, afterthe arrival of Andriy Shevchenko, which was also conducted by Abramovich.

It is understood that the Chelsea owner, who attended a lot of matches at the World Cup, is taking an increased role in the club's dealings and is determined that they win the Champions' League next season as well as retaining the Premiership title. And that they do so with a sprinkling of star names.

Chelsea are understood to have offered Carlos a three-year deal with wages of around £88,000-a-week. On Wednesday he informed Real that he wanted to leave after failing to win a contract extension. His current deal expires next summer.

Carlos is not Mourinho's usual type of preferred defender, although the Portuguese, who shares an agent, Jorge Mendes, with the player, voiced his admiration before the World Cup.

Even if they buy Carlos, Chelsea may also push ahead with plans to sign Ashley Cole from Arsenal. They realise that Carlos cannot play in every match and may use him sparingly while Cole, who is desperate to leave Arsenal, is available if a club triggers a £16m buy-out clause.

Chelsea do not want to pay that price and are waiting to see if a deal can be concluded before the transfer window closes. They realise that with the implosion of Italian football and with Real hoping to sign Gianluca Zambrotta from Juventus, Cole's options may be limited. Chelsea have also shown some belated interest in Zambrotta.

Chelsea hope to create room in their squad by selling Asier del Horno to Valencia. However the Spanish club have so far only offered around £4m for the 25-year-old left-back who only moved to England last summer for £8m from Athletic Bilbao.

He is keen to return to Spain, and Chelsea want to sell, but they also want to recoup most of their transfer fee. Valencia, whose technical director, Amedeo Carboni, was in London this week, have also tried to interest Chelsea in Marco Caneira, the Portuguese international who spent last season on loan at Sporting Lisbon. Caneira can play left-back as well as central defence and it appears likely that Chelsea are looking for a versatile defender. They are monitoring developments in Italy and are interested in Milan's Kakha Kaladze - the Georgian they tried to buy last summer - and the Czech international Marek Jankulovski. William Gallas, meanwhile, seems to be patching up his differences and is set to open new contract talks.

Chelsea will also now have to find a new buyer for Robert Huth after Middlesbrough dropped their interest in the 21-year-old German international. A fee of around £6m and personal terms had been agreed but Huth failed a medical due to an ankle problem.

Five members of the United States World Cup squad are in the MLS All-Star squad to face Chelsea next month. Landon Donovan and Chris Albright of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Clint Dempsey of the New England Revolution, Jimmy Conrad of the Kansas City Wizards and Eddie Pope of Real Salt Lake have all been selected for the "First XI".

However, the First XI will not necessarily be the starting 11 against Chelsea at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois on 5 August. The full 18-man squad will be announced on Monday. The All-Star coach, Peter Nowak of DC United, will name an additional five players, while the MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, will select a further two.

The First XI group was determined by a four-way voting process involving fans, coaches, general managers, players and media.

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