Chelsea line up Napoli's Cavani to be new Drogba

Exclusive: Villas-Boas monitors Uruguayan closely as club prepare to offer £35m in summer

Napoli's prolific Uruguay international striker Edinson Cavani has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Didier Drogba at Chelsea next summer as the club's manager, Andre Villas-Boas, draws up plans to continue his radical overhaul of his squad.

The Portuguese has dispatched Chelsea's newly appointed European scout, Mick Doherty, to monitor the 24-year-old striker on a number of occasions this season and is believed to consider Cavani an ideal candidate to succeed the Ivorian if, as expected, he leaves the club at the end of this season.

Chelsea would have contemplated offers for the 33-year-old, suspended for this lunchtime's crucial Premier League derby with Arsenal, both last summer and the previous year had any suitable bids arrived. With the player's contract due to expire at the end of this campaign, they are not thought to be prepared to offer him anything more than a single season's extension.

Villas-Boas is keen to reduce drastically the age of his squad, a task started last summer with the arrivals of Juan Mata, Thibault Courtois and Oriol Romeu. Cavani, nine years Drogba's junior, would fit that pattern.

The Uruguayan – a native of Salto, the same border town which produced Luis Suarez – also offers the flexibility Villas-Boas demands from his forwards, prospering both as a focal point for Napoli and while playing wide for his national team.

Both positions have reaped rewards: 26 goals last season, his first at San Paolo, made Cavani the most prolific striker in Napoli's history, while Uruguay claimed a World Cup semi-final berth last year and last summer produced a shock victory in the Copa America.

Napoli successfully resisted the overtures of Manchester City for their most valuable asset last summer, with the club's extrovert president, Aurelio de Laurentiis, expressing his determination to allow coach Walter Mazzarri the strongest possible side for the team's first-ever assault on the Champions League.

Though Cavani has continued his impressive vein of form this season – scoring against City at the Etihad Stadium last month before producing a stunning hat-trick to blow Milan away in Naples – and Napoli have started the Serie A campaign sufficiently well to be considered potential title challengers, the club would be vulnerable to a substantial bid this summer if the city's first Scudetto since 1990 proves elusive.

De Laurentiis is desperate to build a squad of sufficient strength to make Napoli regular Champions League candidates and sources close to the Italian side have admitted that a bid of around £35m would be too good to turn down. Chelsea could expect City to rival their interest.

Rather more pressing for Villas-Boas, ahead of the visit of Arsène Wenger's team, is the fate of John Terry, accused of using a racial slur towards QPR's Anton Ferdinand last Sunday, but he is a man the Portuguese insists the entire country should take great pride in.

"I think he is a good role model," said Villas-Boas, who earlier this week described Terry as a fine "representative" of the nation. "He is England captain. He is the captain of your team, your country. You should be proud. I am proud of [Cristiano] Ronaldo. He is the captain of my team, Portugal. He takes us to a higher level."

The Chelsea manager – who has written to the Football Association to explain his comments about referee Chris Foy after that game – removed Terry, the subject of his own FA investigation, from his squad for the Carling Cup victory at Everton but insisted that it was a precaution to protect his captain from suspension, rather than a reflection of his state of mind.

"I see no reason why he is not in the right frame of mind to play [against Arsenal]," Villas-Boas said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?