Duff next in line as Chelsea sign Geremi

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The Independent Football

The Chelsea revolution took another step forward yesterday when the club agreed a fee of £6.9m with Real Madrid for the Cameroon international midfielder Geremi. Chelsea were also coming closer to pulling off the signing of Damien Duff, the Blackburn Rovers winger, and seeing off any last-minute bid from Manchester United.

A day after Chelsea agreed a fee, believed to be in the region of £6m, with West Ham for the England Under-21 defender Glen Johnson, the Geremi deal further underlines the ambition of the club's new owner, Roman Abramovich. Geremi spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough and was arguably their best player, but he is surplus to requirements at Madrid.

In the past 48 hours, Chelsea have also been linked with Duff, Andrei Shevchenko, Christian Vieri, Edgar Davids, Wayne Bridge and David Trezeguet. Juventus claimed to have turned down an approach for Davids on Thursday, while Internazionale said they had rejected a bid for Vieri.

Concerning Duff, however, Abramovich only has to increase his latest bid of £15m slightly to sign the Republic of Ireland winger. Blackburn confirmed Thursday's report that Chelsea have turned their attention to Duff and the chief executive, John Williams, admitted two offers had been rejected.

The Chelsea bid, however, is very close to the £17m figure that could trigger Duff's sale because of a clause in his contract that leaves the transfer down to the player should an offer of a certain amount be made. The haste with which Williams revealed the offers points to the growing possibility that Blackburn will sell if the price is right.

Meanwhile, United's pursuit of Paris St-Germain's Brazilian international, Ronaldinho, should reach a conclusion in the next 48 hours. United's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, is structuring an offer that will meet the immediate needs of the French club and still keep the signing within the Old Trafford budget.

PSG have to raise funds quickly and United will give them around £10m up front with a further £5m guaranteed and extra bonuses related to achievement, but only up to a further £4m or £5m.

The package will have echoes of the David Beckham deal with Real Madrid which was also split over three years with extras.

Ronaldinho is expected to fly to Manchester on Monday for his medical despite attempts from Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign the midfielder.

An offer from Barcelona worth £25m included the playersJuan Roman Requelme and Philippe Christanval while Real Madrid offered a down payment of £7m and agreed to leave the player at PSG for a year. The PSG president, Francis Graille, has claimed that is the best option for the French club, but PSG require more money in advance.

United are also bidding for the Real Betis winger Joaquin Sanchezand Sir Alex Ferguson would be interested in a swap deal with the Spanish club.

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