Chelsea pursue Bilbao's Del Horno

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The Independent Football

Chelsea were yesterday reported in the Spanish press to be in negotiations to sign the Athletic Bilbao defender Asier Del Horno.

Chelsea were yesterday reported in the Spanish press to be in negotiations to sign the Athletic Bilbao defender Asier Del Horno.

Del Horno's agent, Jokin Barcena, reportedly travelled to London on Tuesday to find out first hand what Chelsea are prepared to offer for the 24-year-old left back. Barcena will then report back to the Bilbao president, Fernando Lamikiz, who will decide whether or not to give the go-ahead to the move. Chelsea are reportedly prepared to offer up to 16m euros (£11m) for the 24-year-old, who has been capped six times for Spain. If such an offer was accepted it would represent the largest transfer fee ever received by Bilbao.

Lamikiz said his club is prepared to transfer Del Horno if the defender believes he has "a once in a lifetime opportunity. The club would consider it because we can't have players who aren't happy."

The Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, meanwhile, responded to reports that Chelsea may make an offer for Samuel Eto'o by saying yesterday that the Barça striker would not be allowed to leave for "all the money in the world."

Laporta said: "He's not for sale. He's a Barcelona player and he has to bring many years of glory to the club. Besides, he has become the soul of Barcelona supporters."

Eto'o may be fined for insulting his former club Real Madrid during Barcelona's title celebrations on Sunday.

A move for Eto'o may reflect the fact that the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba says he is struggling to adapt to life in England.

"I feel homesick," he said. "Life in England is not easy. I had to get used to it but I did not, not completely anyway. This is so different.

"I cannot say that I am unhappy in Chelsea considering that I have just won the first two trophies of my career and reached the Champions' League semi-final, but it's true I have not always been happy."

Drogba admitted he still holds former club Marseilles dear and that he wants one day to return.

"Marseilles is in my heart. That's what I said when I left and I have not changed my mind," he said.

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