Shaun Wright-Phillips has been told that he can leave Chelsea with Portsmouth the closest to agreeing a fee for the England international. Chelsea have not waited until the arrival of Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager at the start of the next month to start clearing out some of the squad members whom they judge to be surplus to requirements.
Wright-Phillips, 26, fell so far out of favour with Avram Grant that he was not even among the substitutes for the Champions League final against Manchester United. Having signed in 2005 for £24m, his amortised value on Chelsea's accounts - which depreciates over the length of his contract - is understood to be around the £10m mark. Chelsea would want that kind of fee for the player.
Wright-Phillips is one of three English players whom Harry Redknapp is targeting for the summer. A £10m bid for Peter Crouch is imminent and Nicky Shorey, the £3.5m-rated Reading left-back who has also played for England, is another target. It is part of Portsmouth's strategy of increasing the English contingent in their multi-national squad. Chelsea have told Wright-Phillips that he is a long way back in the queue for a starting position with further new signings expected this summer and can leave the club for an acceptable offer.
Jose Mourinho made clear yesterday that he wants to sign both Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba from Chelsea - and is keen on preventing Deco from moving to Stamford Bridge to also join him at Internazionale. As ever Mourinho's statements were calculated to maximum effect, given the sensitivity of Lampard's contract negotiations, which are set to resume next week, and it was the first time that he had spoken about his transfer plans since taking over at Inter.
"I am not nostalgic but I really like those three players, they helped me win some great titles," Mourinho said. "I cannot forget Deco, Lampard and Drogba. These are players who I could never say no to. I would love to work with them again in the future, but I am not too obsessed with this idea. I don't know which of these three will leave their clubs but we will see."
All three can leave of course with Deco and Drogba having been told they can find other clubs while Lampard, who turns 30 today, has just one year left on his present contract and Chelsea do not want him to leave for free next summer. Mourinho's admiration for him is genuine - he talked of how much he "loved" Lampard on his first day as Chelsea manager and had wanted to make him captain ahead of John Terry before relenting to a players' poll.
Mourinho was speaking in Brazil ahead of the country's 0-0 draw in a World Cup qualification tie against Argentina. He said he was there to "scout" Inter players - striker Adriano, goalkeeper Julio Cesar and right-back Maicon, wearing the Brazil shirt, and centre-back Nicolas Burdisso, fullback Javier Zanetti and striker Julio Cruz, in the Argentine squad. His main interest is Adriano who has been on loan at Sao Paulo.
Chelsea are prepared to keep Lampard but do not want to agree to either the wage demands he is making or the length of contract he is after. The club is also reluctant to meet the 20m euro asking price Barcelona want for Deco, especially as he soon turns 31.
The Coventry coach Steve Kean - and long-term ally of the club's manager Chris Coleman - revealed yesterday that he had been approached about joining Scolari's new backroom staff at Chelsea. Kean's major selling point for the new Chelsea manager is that he is one of the few Englishmen in football who speaks Portuguese, from his time with the club Academica Coimbra.
Announcing that he would not be leaving Coventry, Kean said: "There was someone acting on behalf of Scolari who contacted me about a role at Chelsea. I was very honest and explained that I'm under contract on a very exciting project at Coventry.
"I can speak Portuguese, I've got a lot of experience in the Premier League and I suppose I tick the boxes of what they're looking for to help Scolari get started over here. That's probably where it has come from. I have to say I was very flattered by the approach but the simple fact is I'm at Coventry and we are just getting started on something very exciting."