Chelsea would be prepared to take on any attempt by Arsenal to sign Wayne Rooney should Manchester United and their new manager David Moyes decide that the player can be sold this summer.
The Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis made a bold statement to his club’s supporters this week when he claimed that the club would benefit from the “escalation of our financial power” with their annual income set to rise by £70m, indicating that the transfer fee for a player like Rooney, and his wage demands, could be met.
However, the England international, who has two years left on his existing United deal, is also admired at Chelsea and they would not permit Arsenal to sign the player without putting to him an offer of their own. A new striker is one of the key positions, along with centre-back and defensive midfield, that the club hope to address this summer.
Rooney, 27, would command a substantial salary as well as the fee to take him from United. Chelsea are still at an early stage in their decisions over targets in the attacking position but there is no question that they would be in the market for Rooney if that was a possibility.
The Napoli striker Edinson Cavani is the other main option that the club have, although any deal there is not guaranteed to be cheaper for a player who is only 16 months younger than Rooney and as yet unproven in the Premier League. What does not seem to be in doubt is that Rooney has options post-United, although the question remains whether the club would sanction his sale, and whether they would do so to a domestic rival.
The Porto central defender Eliaquim Mangala is Chelsea’s first-choice signing in that position this summer, with the club having done extensive scouting of the player with a view to acquiring him even before the arrival of Jose Mourinho.
Mangala, 22, a France international, has become one of the rising stars of European football and would follow a well-trodden path from Porto to Chelsea. He would represent a major investment, around £20m, but his age and experience make him worth the cost, especially in a key position that needs strengthening.
The signing of Mangala, who is well regarded throughout Europe, is made considerably easier by the return to Stamford Bridge of Mourinho and his agent Jorge Mendes, who helped facilitate the transfers of Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Jose Bosingwa between the two clubs in Mourinho’s first spell.
Mangala would give Chelsea strong cover at centre-back, with David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and John Terry. There is a big decision to be made on Terry’s future, with one year remaining on his contract. Chelsea announced yesterday that Ferreira, Yossi Benayoun, Florent Malouda and Ross Turnbull would leave this summer as well as, among others, former academy boy Aziz Deen-Conteh.