Chelsea admit £31m interest in Gerrard

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The Independent Football

Chelsea confirmed yesterday that they hope to sign Steven Gerrard. Their new manager Jose Mourinho said he would welcome the England midfielder "with open arms" while chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "If he was to become available, then we would definitely be in for Steven Gerrard".

Chelsea confirmed yesterday that they hope to sign Steven Gerrard. Their new manager Jose Mourinho said he would welcome the England midfielder "with open arms" while chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "If he was to become available, then we would definitely be in for Steven Gerrard."

The interviews, on the club's own television station Chelsea TV, are part of a campaign to land the Liverpool captain for a fee of £31m although the timing, ahead of tonight's Euro 2004 quarter-final against Portugal, will not be appreciated by the England camp.

Nevertheless, Gerrard has made it known he wants to join Chelsea. At the same time Liverpool have already informed the 24-year-old that he must put his request in writing. That is yet to happen ­ although it will. Indeed no deal, as per Uefa guidelines, will be agreed until England's campaign is over.

"If he doesn't come, I will admire him exactly the same," Mourinho added. He also commented on Wayne Rooney, saying "the only thing I can say is that the kid is playing amazing and Mr Eriksson deserves to take congratulations for that also".

Indeed, Mourinho was no great Rooney fan but has been persuaded by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that the Everton striker should also be in his plans.

Mourinho arrived in London yesterday to start his pre-season work and is already surrounding himself with familiar faces, raiding his former club, Porto. His former assistant Baltemar Brito, goalkeeping coach Silvino Louro, fitness coach Rui Faria and technical coach Andrea Zilas-Boas were in Porto yesterday to say farewell before moving to London. It means that the Italian staff of Claudio Ranieri will be free to join him at Valencia.

Kenyon was explicit about Chelsea's interest in Gerrard and Rooney. "Let's be quite honest, these two guys are very hot," he said. "Steven Gerrard is one of the best midfielders around... It's great to see how Frank Lampard and Steven have played together." Kenyon went on: "I think he [Rooney] is a great future talent."

Chelsea are set to off-load both Hernan Crespo and Adrian Mutu. They still hope to sign the Marseille striker Didier Drogba. Mourinho will confirm John Terry as captain and release Marcel Desailly.

Everton yesterday signed the Ipswich Town striker Marcus Bent on a three-year contract for a fee of around £450,000.

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