Chelsea are set to sign the Uruguayan teenager Jorge Garcia - as they take on Manchester United in the youth market. The 17-year-old striker is joining Roman Abramovich's club in their next step towards dominating the transfer scene at all levels.
The Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, has rushed through the deal for the youngster from Danubio, who will be farmed out to Chelsea's new Belgian partner club, Westerlo.
Kenyon was at Manchester United when they formed similar alliances with the likes of Royal Antwerp and his old employers use the Belgian side for youngsters who would not be given work permits through lack of caps. Garcia will become the first Chelsea player to go down the same road.
Chelsea staff have turned some of their attention to recruiting young players, like Manchester United have been doing for the past couple of years. Their "blueprint" has seen a lot of work being done at youth levels as they look to build up their squad for the future without making blockbusting deals for proven players.
This subtle change of direction suggests Abramovich is in for the long haul.
The Brazil striker Ronaldo has denied any interest in joining Chelsea and repeated his desire to stay with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo, preparing for his country's friendly in Ireland, has led Madrid's title charge this season with 19 goals in the Primera Liga. The double World Cup-winner has been linked with a move to Chelsea in recent months, but he claims he is staying put. "I have heard some English clubs are interested in me, but nobody has said anything to me officially," he said.
"Chelsea? I am not moving from Madrid; I am very happy there," he added.
Marcel Desailly insists his relationship with the Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, is not under threat even though his prospects of playing at Euro 2004 are being undermined by a lack of first-team club football.
The France coach, Jacques Santini, has made it clear that players who do not get regular first-team football with their clubs will not be considered for a starting place with Les Bleus. He has made particular reference to Desailly, the France captain, saying he would receive no preferential treatment.
Desailly said: "Of course my situation would be delicate if the coach [Ranieri] did not explain things. "But you know I am Chelsea captain and I can discuss things with my coach."
The Ghana-born defender, who has a record 111 caps for Les Bleus, admitted that Santini would soon have to make his choice from the many candidates contesting the centre-back roles.
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