Chelsea are optimistic about securing England midfielder Scott Parker on a year-long loan from West Ham United in a deal worth £5m.
The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is looking to strengthen his squad following the loss of Michael Essien for six months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and is weighing up a move for Parker, 30, who spent 18 months at Chelsea seven years ago.
West Ham want £1.5m in a fee, and Chelsea would take on Parker's salary of around £3.5m a year. The Hammers are open to the move, as it would significantly reduce the wage bill but at the same time allow Parker to return to the club next year should they gain promotion from the Championship. Premier League clubs have been put off moves for Parker by West Ham's asking price of £8m but this compromise deal could work for all parties.
West Ham co-owner David Sullivan said yesterday: "We have had no approaches from any club officially. I have not spoken to Scott myself. I think he has indicated and his agent has told me for his England career that he would like to play in the Premier League, but if we can't get the right fee for him I think he accepts he will be playing for West Ham next year in the Championship.
"He is a supreme professional and I am sure he will do a wonderful job whether he is with West Ham or somebody else. I mean, we would love a deal – and this has been mooted – that maybe we loan him out for the season for a substantial fee and then when we get promotion he comes back to us.
"That sort of deal would appeal to us because we love Scott," Sullivan added. "We would obviously want a loan fee because he has substantial value and has three or four years left of his career."
Thomas Hitzlsperger, who left West Ham at the end of last season, yesterday escaped a driving ban after telling magistrates in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, that he needed his licence so he could find a new club.
Hitzlsperger was caught driving at 107mph in a 70mph zone on the A14 in Suffolk in April. However, instead of being banned, the German midfielder was handed six points on his licence and fined £750.
Meanwhile, Villas-Boas was yesterday the subject of stinging criticism from Jorge Pinto da Costa, the president of his former club Porto, who accused the new Chelsea manager of being afraid of "Jose Mourinho's ghost".
The Portuguese champions are still bitter at the decision of their former manager to leave after overseeing their record-breaking season, in which they won four trophies including the Europa League. Pinto da Costa told the club's supporters that Villas-Boas left because he feared he would be unable to replicate Mourinho's feat of winning the Champions League with Porto.
Pinto da Costa said: "Villas-Boas was living with Mourinho's ghost. He was afraid he would not have the same success as in his first season. That was the crucial aspect in his departure.