Marseille turn to Eto'o as Chelsea close on Drogba

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The Independent Online

Chelsea's multi-million pound bid to sign Didier Drogba moved a step closer last night as Marseille set up a deal to replace him with Samuel Eto'o.

Chelsea's multi-million pound bid to sign Didier Drogba moved a step closer last night as Marseille set up a deal to replace him with Samuel Eto'o.

The club's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, is close to agreement on a fee with the French club despite having an intial £22m bid turned down. The club-record move is only being held up until the vacancy up front is filled. Marseille are now in talks with Mallorca for the Cameroon international Eto'o.

Marseille made contact with Eto'o once they realised Drogba's price was becoming too good to refuse and they believe the speedy striker would fill his boots perfectly. Eto'o will decide on the transfer shortly, with Barcelona and Athletico Madrid also interested in him. However they do not have Marseille's potential financial strength.

The Chelsea coach, Jose Mourinho, has also been talking up Drogba's qualities while pushing Hernan Crespo towards a decision - and a move out of Stamford Bridge.

Marseille were still making defiant noises last night and their president, Christophe Bouchet, said: "We feel that their offer is insufficient and have refused the deal. We are in a position where we do not have to be sellers. I have spoken to Didier and everyone knows what has happened and are happy with it. Chelsea have also behaved fairly, we are not trying to push the price up, it is just our decision at the moment."

However Bouchet admitted that there could be developments in the next week and had advised his general manager, Pape Diouf, to be "on the look-out" for a replacement.

Elsewhere, Danny Mills has became the latest high-earner to be ushered through the exit door at Elland Road - with the Manchester City manager, Kevin Keegan, confirming that Leeds have given the England full-back a helping hand.

"Everyone knows that a lot of players are leaving Leeds and the club are, in some ways, having to subsidise them," Keegan said. "They have done it with Mark Viduka, they have done it with two or three other players and they have done it with Danny Mills. That has been the complication."

Wolves said their striker Henri Camara has refused to join pre-season training and has left the country. The club held talks over Camara's future on Monday but afterwards the 27-year-old left for France, against the club's wishes.

"Henri refused to go to the training ground with his teammates," the chief executive at Molineux, Jez Moxey, said. "He's now gone to Paris, which we're unhappy about, and the matter remains unresolved at the moment."

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