Chelsea are stepping up their attempts to buy a new right-back in the January transfer window and are considering a move for either Seville's Daniel Alves or Valencia's Miguel.
Both players were recently watched by Frank Arnesen, the club's head of youth development, along with Chelsea's Spanish representative, Juan Sol, at the league meeting between the two sides on 18 November.
The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, has targeted right-back as the weakness in his team after losing faith with Paulo Ferreira. Mourinho is also not convinced by Geremi, who is currently filling the position, and summer signing Khalid Boulahrouz who is more comfortable in central defence.
Chelsea have already shown interest in Manchester City's Micah Richards, making an inquiry before the 18-year-old signed a new contract last summer. They may well follow up that interest with a bid although a swap deal involving West Ham target Shaun Wright-Phillips is unlikely. Wright-Phillips wants to stay in London.
Sources in Portugal, however, believe that Mourinho favours a move for Miguel who, ironically, also replaced Ferreira in the Portuguese national team. The 25-year-old is injured at present, having pulled a thigh muscle, but, like Alves, has the attacking qualities that Chelsea are looking for. Both players are converted wingers.
Miguel joined Valencia after a bitter dispute with his former club, Benfica. During that time he trained with Fulham and has long been linked with a move to the Premiership. Yesterday he told the Portuguese newspaper O Jogo: "Chelsea is Chelsea. It's good to know that they're interested in my game if the news is true. I'm very satisfied to hear that, I really am, but before anything can happen Valencia need to be consulted."
Alves, a 23-year-old Brazilian, was close to moving to Liverpool last summer after a series of impressive performances in Seville's Uefa Cup campaign. The Spanish club held out for a £12m fee and are likely to demand in excess of £10m now. Valencia will look for a similar fee for Miguel. Alves, who holds a Spanish passport, is in fine form and scored twice on Wednesday.
Like Miguel, who is 5ft 10in, he is not particularly tall, at just 5ft 8in, which would go against the criteria set down for Mourinho for his defenders although Chelsea ditched that policy when signing Ashley Cole. With the team now playing with a midfield diamond there is greater onus on full-backs who are more comfortable joining the attack.
That attack has also been exercising Chelsea although striker Andrei Shevchenko moved yesterday to dismiss suggestions of a return to Milan. However, the 30-year-old admitted that his indifferent form since his £30.8m transfer had led to speculation he is not happy.
Shevchenko told Chelsea's website: "If that means there is opinion and criticism I respect that. I give 100 per cent all the time and I am committed and hungry for success with Chelsea, who I have total respect for."
Mourinho has defended Shevchenko, who has scored just three Premiership goals in 13 matches. "He knows the way I think about football, I will support him the maximum I can," Mourinho said. "It's not easy to adapt. Italian football is different to English football even though we play the same system as Milan."
Earlier the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliano, had told his club's website: "At this time there have not been any negotiations with Chelsea regarding Andrei Shevchenko's return to our club." Milan would need to shed a non-EU player in order to comply with Italian regulations, and Galliano said they are not prepared to do that.
However, the Brazilian goalkeeper Dida is currently stalling on a contract extension and may leave. He shares an agent, Oscar Damiani, with Shevchenko. Damiani yesterday denied he was in talks with Chelsea. "We have not talked to anyone," he said of Dida. "In January the situation could be different if Dida has not renewed his contract."Reuse content