The Brazil international Robinho is "desperate" to leave Real Madrid to join Chelsea and is considering making an extraordinary public statement denouncing the behaviour of the Spanish champions if they block the expected move.
According to a source close to the deal, Chelsea will pay £25m to sign the 24-year-old who, after a series of meetings in London involving his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, has agreed personal terms on a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge.
The source said that Chelsea remain extremely confident that the deal will go through but that Robinho has grown increasingly frustrated with the delay. The striker believes he was given a guarantee that he could move if Real were made an appropriate offer, which has now been made. "The boy is desperate to come to Chelsea and is prepared to make a statement against the club [Real] if they don't let him go," the source said.
Contrary to some claims, it is understood that the sale of Robinho is not in any way linked to Real's attempts to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, although they would certainly like to bolster their squad before letting him go. Yesterday, Real failed with an initial bid of just £5.8m to sign the Netherlands midfielder Rafael van der Vaart from Hamburg.
Real, whose squad are at a pre-season training camp in Austria, have also withdrawn Robinho from Brazil's Olympic squad – he was chosen as one of the over-age players – citing an injury. However, the Brazilians believe he is not being allowed to play so as not to jeopardise his move to Chelsea.
The Premier League club have publicly confirmed their interest in Robinho and claimed his signing would be the last they make in this transfer window. However, that may not be the case, especially if another Brazilian, Kaka, also makes a public statement saying it is time for him to leave Milan. Chelsea would then swoop and are prepared to pay a world-record transfer fee.
This week the Chelsea chief executive, Peter Kenyon, has, on several occasions, spoken confidently about a deal for Robinho taking place and dismissed suggestions that the player wants to stay at Real and has signed a new contract there.
Robinho would certainly add to Chelsea's attacking options – Kenyon said he offers "a different dimension" – and is much admired by the new manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, who has called him one of the game's "great players". Chelsea would consider playing him as a main striker, alongside Didier Drogba if he stays, but also in one of the wide positions which may, ultimately, be bad news for Joe Cole, although it is understood he may be one of the next players to be offered a new contract.
Chelsea are close to agreeing a deal to sell Tal Ben Haim to Manchester City for £5m, while a bid of between £8m and £10m is expected from Portsmouth for winger Shaun Wright-Phillips. Both players, along with Claudio Pizarro and Juliano Belletti, have been told they can leave as Scolari carries through his plan to trim his squad, while midfielder Florent Malouda can also go if Chelsea recoup the fee – £13.5m – they paid for him last year.
Chelsea continue their pre-season tour of Asia today with a match against Chengdu Blades in Macau. While Michael Ballack is poised to join up with the squad after his short honeymoon in Ibiza, Jose Bosingwa may have to be withdrawn following a thigh injury.