Damien Duff is on his way to Chelsea for talks about a "double your money" £70,000 a week contract, after checking in - and checking out - at Blackburn Rovers yesterday.
Duff arrived at Manchester airport at 11am ready to board the flight for the club's pre-season tour of America. But the Republic of Ireland winger was told that he was cleared for a different kind of take-off as Rovers' chief executive, John Williams, accepted Chelsea's latest, and final, £17m offer.
The clause in Duff's contract allowing him to speak to other clubs was activated with just minutes to spare before the Atlantic crossing and he was immediately told he can begin negotiations with the now super-rich London club. Williams took the call on his mobile phone in the departure lounge and Duff dashed away to drive off and see his advisers before lining up the Stamford Bridge meeting.
Chelsea's financial strength has already been shown and now they will put a huge pay deal to the quiet Irishman in an attempt to persuade him to join. Duff has been in a daze about the transfer since it was first revealed last week. He was initially against the move because he is happy in his quiet country home in the idyllic Ribble Valley.
But the thought of increasing his £35,000 a week Rovers deal was enough to make him think twice and he will listen to what Chelsea have to say. A Blackburn team-mate said: "Duffer is not sure what to do, but he knows he has to talk to Chelsea and listen to what they have to say.
"He is not a money monster and is happy with his lot and the privacy he has in Lancashire. But anyone would like to find out more about what is on offer and the ambitions that Chelsea have."
The Rovers' manager, Graeme Souness, may get only a fraction of the £17m from the sale and could sign just a couple of players, leaving the rest in the bank and for the next transfer window. Sunderland's Claudio Reyna is a priority for him and a £2m offer to the hard-up Black Cats is expected once Duff agrees to move.
Chelsea have also completed the signing of the Real Madrid midfielder Geremi. The 24-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough, has moved for a fee of £7m. The Cameroon international, who has agreed a five-year deal, said he has joined because he wants to win "many titles".
Manchester United will get some consolation for missing out on Duff when the Brazilian Kleberson puts his pen to a £10m contract. The Old Trafford club have signed him for a smaller fee than Leeds United were offering.
Details of the deal thrashed out between Kleberson's representatives and United leaked out as it emerged he would collect a five-year deal at £40,000-a-week. The package is huge for a player who was on a fraction of that at Atletico Paranaense, with the club happy to do business at £5m for the midfielder.
United's offer to the club is £1m less than Leeds were willing to pay. The Yorkshire club had proposed a £6m deal based on installments and appearances, but the Old Trafford offer is a guaranteed amount.
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