Chelsea launch £5m bid to capture Cole

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The Independent Football

Chelsea are making a £5m bid to sign Joe Cole from relegated West Ham United to give him action in the Champions' League, rather than the Nationwide League.

Despite the midfielder's loyalty to the club he fought so hard to keep in the top flight, he may find the chance to play in the Premiership and Europe, which would give him a better chance of playing for England, too hard to resist.

West Ham, facing mounting debts and with the First Division to look forward to, may be forced to sell at a reduced rate in a falling market. Cole has previously been valued at more than £10m, but there is no buyer at that price and no offers have been received.

Chelsea are heavily in debt but signing Cole and staggering the payments would make little difference to their bank balance, and would improve their side. With Gianfranco Zola yet to sign a contract and nearing the end of his time at the top, Chelsea are also looking for an inventive play-maker.

David O'Leary is trying to agree a price to make the Sunderland goalkeeper, Thomas Sorensen, one of his first signings for Aston Villa for about £3m - although Sunderland are looking for £4m and say they will hold out. Sorensen has already seen a move to Birmingham City fall through because of wage problems.

Arsenal have also been linked with Sorensen and were interested in a deal at £2m down and the rest in instalments, but Villa are in a position to offer straight cash. Villa were let down by Peter Enckelman a couple of times last season, most notably in the Birmingham derbies, while the Dutchman Stefan Postma was given only rare chances.

Blackburn Rovers have clinched the signing of Rangers' captain, Lorenzo Amoruso, for £1.4m on a three-year contract worth about £4m. The Italian centre-half, 32 next month, will head to Ewood Park after Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Dundee.

Bolton Wanderers signed the Olympiakos midfielder Stylianos Giannakopoulos yesterday. Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, had seen Giannakopoulos play in a game that was marred by violence in the stand. "I saw enough that day to know he is a good player," he said. "We have been watching him a lot this year. But I knew I had to get out of the match quickly when one of the rival directors pulled out a gun in front of me when things got rough."

Wanderers are also looking at another Greek, the AEK Athens centre-half Mihalis Kapsis, who is another free agent and could replace the retired Gudni Bergsson.

Everton's manager, David Moyes, has had a £3m-plus bid for the Ghanaian Mickaël Essien turned down by Bastia as they fight Liverpool for his signature. Moyes' offer was cash plus Essien's compatriot Alex Nyarko in exchange, but the French club rejected it as they were not keen on the makeweight.

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