Mourinho set to spend £80m

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The Independent Online

Chelsea last night started their summer spending spree as they finalised the contract to sign their new coach Jose Mourinho. The four-year package is worth €24m (£16.5m) and, at fives times his current salary, will also make him the best-paid manager in the Premiership and trigger at least another £80m in transfers.

Chelsea last night started their summer spending spree as they finalised the contract to sign their new coach Jose Mourinho. The four-year package is worth €24m (£16.5m) and, at fives times his current salary, will also make him the best-paid manager in the Premiership and trigger at least another £80m in transfers.

The Porto coach was meeting the Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, at a secret location and will sign the contract over the weekend with an announcement due at the beginning of next week before Mourinho goes on holiday to Brazil. At the same time Claudio Ranieri will be sacked with a £6m pay-off and Frank Lampard is expected to agree a new £80,000-a-week contract. The midfielder, along with Claude Makelele, is Mourinho's favourite Chelsea player and is central to his plans.

Mourinho is expected to arrive with at least two of his Porto players - the play-maker Deco, who has turned down a move to Bayern Munich and wants to join Chelsea, and the midfielder Costinha. They may be joined by right-back Paulo Ferreira, although that deal has cooled, with the total cost rising to a staggering £48m. Two other Porto players - Ricardo Carvalho and Maniche - are interested in coming to Stamford Bridge but are unlikely to be signed.

Mourinho, who will arrive with his backroom staff, including assistant and fitness coach, will however attempt to sign a sixth, Derlei, his favourite player, once the Brazilian striker has secured a Portuguese passport next year.

The 41-year-old coach is also interested in another Brazilian, Luis Fabiano, Ronaldo's international understudy, who plays for Sao Paolo and has already been approached by Barcelona. He is thought to be available for £12m. Mourinho is keen that Chelsea pursue their interest in the Marseille striker Didier Drogba too - despite the French club yesterday rejecting a bid of £17m and insisting he was not for sale. Chelsea are likely to make an improved offer of £20m.

Drogba fits the mould of the powerful striker Mourinho favours and is keen to move to the Premiership. The Marseille chairman, Christophe Bouchet, confirmed: "Chelsea have contacted us about Drogba. We met them and Juventus out of courtesy but a transfer is out of the question."

If Drogba did move it would prompt the departure of Hernan Crespo who is not in the new coach's plans and neither, apparently, are proposed transfer targets such as Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos and Michel Salgado, despite the interest in them shown by Roman Abramovich. That could prove to be a point of conflict. Mourinho does, however, want the talented 20-year-old Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is understood to be available on loan after a series of injuries.

The Portuguese champions, fresh from winning the European Cup, have accepted Mourinho's departure and have lined up the Chievo coach, Luigi del Neri, as his replacement. "It would be fantastic to coach the European champions and to guide them in the competition next season," Del Neri said.

Mourinho was due to fly into London yesterday, boarding a flight at 8.20am from Lisbon but although he was spotted at the airport, he was not seen arriving at Heathrow. Instead it is understood he may have switched flights and gone back to Oporto from where he caught a later flight out to meet Kenyon. The Chelsea chief executive, meanwhile, had arrived back in London yesterday morning, after meeting officials from Milan and Ranieri on Thursday. Kenyon had a lunch meeting and, according to Chelsea sources, left for the airport where he caught another flight.

Chelsea have grown increasingly nervous about Mourinho's intentions - the coach has made it plain that there are other offers on the table - and are determined to nail him down this weekend. Mourinho expects to fly to Brazil either tomorrow or on Monday with his family before returning to Portugal for the start of Euro 2004 when he is contracted to write a column for a Portuguese sports newspaper.

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