Chelsea ready to swoop for £40m Villa

Abramovich set to make cash-strapped Valencia an offer they cannot refuse

Chelsea have emerged as contenders in the fight to secure the £40m services of David Villa from Valencia.

After two relatively austere summers, Roman Abramovich is understood to have indicated he is ready to strengthen by attempting to bring the 27-year-old Spaniard from the cash-strapped Mestalla. Villa, who has never shown much inclination to leave his homeland and is a possible target for Barcelona and Real Madrid, said last night he intends to see out his contract, which runs to 2014. "The club trusts me and they have not told me anything about a possible sale," he said.

But Valencia's financial crisis is forcing them to sell their best players this summer and, with the future beyond this summer of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka uncertain, Abramovich's offer may be too good to resist. Manchester City were interested in January but balked at the £135m being demanded for Villa and David Silva

Tests on Steven Gerrard's troublesome groin established yesterday that he has sustained a small strain to his adductor muscle, though Liverpool may still gamble on playing him against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow and then rest him for the second leg of the Champions League tie with Chelsea, next Tuesday. If that is the course of action on Gerrard the club opt for – discussions will take place at Melwood today on the best way ahead – then it would appear to be an implicit signal that the Champions League tie against Chelsea is all but lost and that Liverpool must make keeping the heat on Manchester United in domestic competition their priority. Though Gerrard has, as yet, not been ruled out of any matches, Benitez has said that Gerrard was "clearly not as mobile as normal" on Wednesday evening, when Michael Essien marked him out of the match and the tear apparently sustained during the game is the reason. Liverpool will be anxious to resolve the groin problem as they pursue what, by Wednesday, may well be the last winnable silverware of the season. Gerrard underwent groin surgery in August and it was a torn adductor muscle in November which prompted a row between the Football Association and Liverpool, after England manager Fabio Capello doubted Liverpool's claim that he was injured and insisted he make the 400-mile round trip to the national squad's base ahead of the friendly against Germany in Berlin.

The prospect of Gerrard being less than fit is a disturbing one for Liverpool, considering how instrumental to their resurgence he and Fernando Torres have been to the club's resurgence and Torres was also "less than 100%!" on Wednesday, according to Benitez, though that appears to be down to fatigue. But if he is rested for the Champions League second leg, there would be a 10-day window for recuperation, with no game for Liverpool on FA Cup semi-final weekend, until the crunch league toe with Arsenal at Anfield on 21 April.

Liverpool's Pepe Reina did not contribute much optimism when he put his side's chances of progressing, next Tueday, at a mere 15%. "I would say it is more or less 85-15 against us qualifying now," said Reina.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have renewed belief in the wake of Wednesday night that they can win the title. "Everything is still up for grabs," Frank Lampard said yesterday. "Who knows what can happen in the league, FA Cup and the Champions League?" Sir Alex Ferguson's suggestion that the winners of the Chelsea/Liverpool tie will be United's main obstacle met short shrift from Reina. "I'm not interested in anything Ferguson says," he declared.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album