Chelsea land Shevchenko with £30.8m record deal

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The Independent Football

Andrei Shevchenko last night became British football's most expensive player as Chelsea's long pursuit was concluded when he put his signature to a 45m (£30.8m) move from Milan.

The transfer fee exceeds the £30m Manchester United paid Leeds United for Rio Ferdinand and again rewrites Chelsea's battered club record which had reached £26m with last season's signing of Michael Essien. The four-year contract is the sixth-most expensive deal in world terms, placing Shevchenko behind Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Hernan Crespo, Gianluigi Buffon and Christian Vieri.

However, all those players were younger than the 29-year-old Ukrainian. Shevchenko is a class act but the fee is high ­ no other club would have paid it. Shevchenko's age, the wear and tear of seven years in Serie A and his failure to convert chances against Barcelona in the Champions' League semi-final all indicate his best days are behind him. Nevertheless, Milan had offered him a contract extension until 2011 and Shevchenko will probably score heavily in the Premiership. The test is whether he can deliver the Champions' League title, earning a second winners' medal. In the 2003 final he scored the decisive penalty in Milan's shoot-out win over Juventus.

Last night, Shevchenko said: "I am here for the challenge and the excitement of playing in the Premier League. I am going from one big club to another and joining a team of champions.

"There is a right moment to join a club and I have arrived at the perfect time. The Champions' League has to be a realistic target for next season but Chelsea [are] going for their third Premiership and I like the club's mentality of wanting to win every game. I have followed [Jose] Mourinho's career carefully for the last few years and have been impressed with the way he manages. He puts team ethic before individual expression, which is the way great teams are created.

"Had money been my motivation, I'd probably have stayed in Milan. I'm pleased Chelsea concluded everything before the World Cup. I can go to Germany with a clear mind, proud to be a Chelsea player."

Mourinho added: "Today is a day when the dream became reality. Andrei has always been my first choice for Chelsea since I arrived. Before it was not possible, now it is for real. He has great qualities, ambition, discipline, tactical awareness and of course he is a great goalscorer. For him to leave Milan for Chelsea is a big statement about where Chelsea is. He is a champion and he is joining a team of champions."

It will be interesting to see how Shevchenko's friendship with club owner Roman Abramovich plays out in the dressing-room. Shevchenko explained last week the decisive factor in the transfer was his and American wife Kristen Pazik's desire to bring up a family in England.

Shevchenko took just a few hours to agree personal terms and pass a medical after arriving at Stamford Bridge yesterday. He has been carrying a knee injury suffered on 7 May but that did not affect his medical, nor should it prevent his participation for Ukraine, who start their World Cup campaign against Spain on 14 June.

Shevchenko joined Milan from Dynamo Kiev in 1999 and scored 173 goals. He is likely to partner Didier Drogba up front at Chelsea. Lyon had hoped to sign the disaffected Ivorian, but Mourinho apparently wants to build the team around him and Shevchenko.

Hernan Crespo, however, will be sold, at a considerable loss on the £18m Chelsea paid for him. Carlton Cole is also set to move on after being edged further down the pecking order by the arrival of Salomon Kalou this week.

Mourinho last night confirmed he would also like to sign Real Madrid left-back Roberto Carlos, saying: "Roberto is 33 but I consider him to be the best in his position and I wish it would be possible." Mourinho also added that he was close to capturing goalkeeper Hilario from Portuguese club Nacional de Madeira.

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