Chelsea make Deco first target for Scolari regime
Saturday 14 June 2008
Chelsea are likely to make the Portuguese international Deco their first signing under new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. Talks have taken place with Jorge mendes, the agent who represents the Barcelona midfielder and also represents Scolari. Deco is likely to cost around £10m and has also held talks with Internazionale, who are now coached by another Mendes client, Jose Mourinho.
Luiz Felipe Scolari wants to make Deco, the Portuguese international, his first signing at Chelsea. Talks have taken place with agent, Jorge Mendes, who represents both manager and player. The Barcelona midfielder will cost £10m.
The 30-year-old has other options, not least Internazionale, who are now coached by another of Mendes's clients, Jose Mourinho, but he is understood to favour a move to the Premier League. Deco, Brazilian by birth, had also been proposed as one of Mourinho's first signings when he joined Chelsea in 2004 but moved to Barcelona instead.
Deco took advantage of a day off for the Portuguese squad on Thursday to discuss his future with Barça and Mendes – who had returned to Switzerland after a day trip on Wednesday to Italy to see Mourinho. Mendes is also understood to have spoken to Cristiano Ronaldo about his future and the possibility of joining Real Madrid.
If Deco arrives at Stamford Bridge it heightens the prospect of Frank Lampard's departure with Mourinho happy to take the England midfielder, who has just one year left on his contract, to Italy.
Chelsea also want to sign Kaka and Liverpool's Fernando Torres and are prepared to pay whatever it takes to get the pair to the club. They would not balk at fees of £60m. Indeed, owner Roman Abramovich has travelled to Milan several times this year to watch Kaka and discuss his future.
Privately, Chelsea accept that trying to sign either player may prove impossible even if the presence of Scolari at the club will certainly increase the chances of securing Kaka. The two have had a strong relationship since Scolari called Kaka up into the Brazil squad for the 2002 World Cup. Yesterday Milan's technical director Leonardo, who played for Scolari when he was Brazil's coach, said signing Kaka is "impossible because he is here at Milan and he will end his career here at Milan".
Deco appears to be a more likely candidate although there are doubts as to whether, given his age, he is quite the force of old. Another realistic prospect is the Real Madrid striker Robinho although there are concerns as to whether he would be suitable for English football. Chelsea also remain interested in Bayern Munich's Franck Ribéry but, again, it will be hard to force the club to sell.
Scolari will speak in public for the first time today about his decision to become Chelsea's new manager – but is likely to cut short his pre-match press conference if he is asked any questions on the issue.
Scolari not speak again about Chelsea until he joins the club on 1 July. The timing of the announcement that the Brazilian is leaving Portugal – after Wednesday's victory over the Czech Republic – has caused consternation among the country's football federation as it has come in the middle of a competition they have high hopes of winning.
However Acaz Felleger, a spokesman for Scolari, said it had been made "at the right moment". He said: "There was no way we could make this announcement later otherwise it would have been too close to the knock-out games. The game against Switzerland now has no weight in qualification therefore there will be some days to digest the news.
"Scolari will do a quick announcement on Saturday and after that he will only talk about the Euros. This was a very difficult decision for him.
"Scolari had been with Portugal for five and half years and loves working here. He has worked longer with this team than any other team in his career. He loves the country very much but it was time for him to leave."
The defender Fernando Meira was one of the first Portuguese players to talk about the departure yesterday and said: "Our squad is upset because we lost a great trainer. In the last years Scolari has shown he is a great coach. He has had a lot of success here in Portugal. One thing is for sure – we will miss him. But now we still count on him and we hope to make something beautiful here at the European Championship to dedicate to him. The timing is what it is. Everything in life has a beginning and has an end."
Chelsea's former assistant manager Henk ten Cate, who joined the club after Mourinho's departure, was yesterday named as the new coach of the Greek club Panathinaikos.
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