Chelsea are increasingly confident that they will be able to sign Robinho from Real Madrid within the next two weeks following another meeting in London with the Brazilian's agent Wagner Ribeiro.
The transfer fee for the 24-year-old is still to be finalised, with Chelsea sources insisting they will not pay more than £30m for the striker. But personal terms are now understood to have been agreed, while Ribeiro yesterday reassured Chelsea that Robinho wants to join them if he leaves Real and that the club are prepared to sell. Indeed, Real have privately been accused by the Brazilian Football Confederation of withdrawing Robinho from their Olympic squad so as not to jeopardise his transfer.
Yesterday, the Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, speaking ahead of the first match of the club's pre-season tour, against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical today in China, said: "I think as far as Robinho is concerned it is quite right he has been one of our targets. We have had several conversations with Madrid and he is a player we think would add a great deal to Chelsea.
"We have got a fantastic squad and that has been strengthened with [Jose] Bosingwa and Deco and I think the coach [Luiz Felipe Scolari] was just looking for one more to complete what he thinks is the perfect squad. There is still a long way to go on that one [Robinho], but we are very, very interested and the clubs are in dialogue."
If Robinho is indeed Chelsea's final signing of the summer, it means Scolari will get his wish to drastically reduce the squad size. Chelsea are understood to be mulling over an offer from Roma for their winger Florent Malouda, who has failed to make an impact after arriving from Lyons last summer for £13.5m and has not settled in England.
Initially, Roma, who need to replace Mancini after selling the Brazilian to Internazionale, proposed a loan deal, but Chelsea are more interested in a sale and want to recoup the fee they paid. However, the Serie A club are understood to have verbally offered only €13m (£10.3m) for the France winger but are expected to improve their bid.
Chelsea have denied making a bid for the Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o and maintain that they are not about to sell Didier Drogba. However neither are they set to offer the 30-year-old a new contract – which his agents have asked for – which, following fresh deals for Wayne Bridge and Petr Cech, is what Michael Essien has been awarded. The 25-year-old midfielder has agreed a new five-year contract.
If Malouda leaves Chelsea, he is likely to be followed by another winger, Shaun Wright-Phillips. Chelsea want £10m for the 26-year-old and have told him he can go, while Wright-Phillips has indicated he would be willing to join Portsmouth. Their manager Harry Redknapp said of Wright-Phillips: "I don't think he will be more expensive than Crouchie [Peter Crouch] but Shaun Wright-Phillips will be another expensive buy. He will be a terrific buy and he will bring something to the team that maybe we lack."
Redknapp will have to sell first, having spent a potential £11m on Crouch, and after revealing that the club had turned down an offer of £12m from Monaco for Niko Kranjcar, it is believed they are willing to sell the Croatian if they get a bid of £15m. Meanwhile, Portsmouth denied yesterday that they had received a bid of £12m from Inter for Sulley Muntari. They would like to sell John Utaka, Sean Davis, Richard Hughes and Pedro Mendes, while Noé Pamarot is resisting a move to Hull City.