City may take Drogba off Chelsea's hands

Scolari's continued interest in Robinho raises intriguing prospect of swap deal
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Didier Drogba is set to see out the season at Chelsea and will leave the club in the summer, unless Manchester City can construct a deal to take the 30-year-old striker to Eastlands before the end of the month.

There has been no official dialogue between the two clubs, although it is known that the Chelsea manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, remains desperate to sign Robinho, who is unsettled at City and who has returned to Brazil without the club's approval. A swap deal is possible, if difficult.

The Independent revealed in November that Chelsea were considering whether to renew their interest in Robinho, having lost out to City in the race to sign him on the last day of the summer transfer window.

Scolari, who is one of the 24-year-old's mentors, has stayed in contact with the striker and is aware of how unsettled he is in the North-west, despite a series of public denials which included Robinho posting another message on his website yesterday.

The Chelsea manager has urged the club's directors to explore the possibility of some kind of swap deal involving players such as Drogba moving to City but, so far, there has not been any official discussions.

However, agents and representatives have talked and one said yesterday: "There is a lot of logic in it but it appears, at present, unlikely that anything will happen this month. Robinho is not happy there and Drogba has been told he can go, but not until the summer."

The major stumbling block would be City's attitude to losing Robinho, a £34m trophy signing, after failing to land Kaka from Milan this week, which has been a significant setback in their plans to assemble a squad of world superstars.

It is also understood that Drogba would prefer a move back to France, and ideally Marseilles, should he leave Chelsea, where he has struggled this season. He has scored just one league goal and was dropped from the last two squads after a dalliance with Internazionale last year that did not lead to an official bid from the Italian club.

Drogba's asking price and wage demands are a stumbling block, although not for City, of course, who are desperate to sign a powerful striker in his mould and have been trying to secure Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers without success. City's bids have still not reached the original asking price for Santa Cruz, which has since been increased.

City are also after another central defender and Vlado Borozan, the agent of Chelsea's Serbia international Branislav Ivanovic, claimed yesterday: "There is something going on with Manchester City, but Chelsea already refused a £15m offer from Milan." Ivanovic arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow last January for £9m but has barely featured in the Chelsea first team.

Scolari has some funds at his disposal following the £11m-plus sale of Wayne Bridge, also to City. He is keen to sign another attacking player and has looked at a series of strikers, plus Wigan Athletic's Luis Antonio Valencia, who is also interesting Manchester United.

Mark Hughes, the City manager, said that Robinho – who said he had to return to Brazil for family reasons, although these are primarily thought to be to celebrate his 25th birthday at the weekend – had apologised for his actions.