Chelsea's main efforts this week will be concentrated on bringing Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribéry to Stamford Bridge, with owner Roman Abramovich not tempted by Carlos Tevez’s release from Manchester United into launching a bid to beat Manchester City to his services.
Chelsea are no further advanced in their quest to buy Ribéry but are taking comfort from the fact that Real Madrid do not appear to have advanced either. Tevez is a player Chelsea consider to be overpriced and United’s decision to effectively terminate contract negotiations on Saturday has not changed Abramovich’s view, it emerged yesterday. That leaves City with a clear run.
They will step up their efforts to sign him this week and would like to have tied up his services before the week is out, though Roque Santa Cruz is the player who they will land first. The Paraguyan striker was due to arrive back in Britain from holiday in the early hours of this morning and a medical is likely to take place in the Northwest today. A £16.5m deal may be concluded within the next few days though with City manager Mark Hughes on holiday this week, he is unlikely to be unveiled as a City player this week.
It is a case of “never say never”
where Chelsea and Tevez are concerned but the Argentine striker is certainly more minded to move to Eastlands in any case. His prime motivation is the fact that City will give him a leading role to get his teeth into.
He is also well known to the South American contingent at City – Pablo Zabaleta, Robinho and Elano – and the fact that his daughter is settled at school in Manchester also militates against him choosing anywhere other than City.
His departure leaves United, who imposed a deadline of last Friday night on the Tevez contract negotiations, suddenly looking in dire need of a world-class striker or two. But hopes that the 21-year-old Lyons star Karim Benzema might be that individual took a dent last night when the player’s agent, Karim Djaziri, insisted that Benzema wished to remain in France in the build up to next summer’s World Cup campaign. That does not rule out United moving in with a “tsunami of cash” as Lyons chairman Jean-Michel Aulas has described it, but they seem to need some powers of persuasion.