Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chelsea and City join chase for Tevez

Chelsea and Manchester City will join Real Madrid in the scramble for the services of Carlos Tévez if the Manchester United forward prices himself out of a long-term contract at Old Trafford.

United are in negotiations to sign Tévez on a permanent basis once their two-year lease arrangement expires in June, but progress has been awkward, with Kia Joorabchian, head of the companies that own the player’s economic rights, maintaining that they must pay a fee of £22 million in addition to the downpayments of about £10 million that have already been made and a salary well in excess of £100,000 a week.

Other clubs have been alerted to the impasse and while Real’s interest is well known, Chelsea and City have also made clear their desire to be kept informed of developments.

The Argentina forward has expressed a preference to stay with United but, as well as the financial complications, he has been frustrated at times this season by his demotion to third choice behind Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney. Madrid would be his preferred destination if he were to leave United, but Chelsea and City would offer further options.

City officials have discussed the feasibility of such a coup with Mark Hughes, the manager, since the failed bid to sign Kaká, the Brazil forward, from AC Milan this month. The fee for Tévez would be £32 million, but Chelsea appear to be willing to match that valuation in the summer while also bidding to sign Luis Fabiano, the Brazil forward, from Seville.

City are hoping to make one last, big splash in the January transfer window as Hughes prepares to pursue an alternative striker in the event that Blackburn Rovers do not accept the club’s final £18.5 million offer for Roque Santa Cruz.

While Shay Given, the Newcastle United goalkeeper, moved to break the deadlock over his proposed switch to City by submitting a transfer request yesterday, Hughes’s chief concern is signing another striker to complement the £14 million acquisition of Craig Bellamy from West Ham United. Didier Drogba’s name has been discussed, although it is unclear how prominently the Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker figures in Hughes’s thoughts or whether the London club would be prepared to sell him with little time to find a suitable replacement.

City are eager to sign Santa Cruz — the latest bid was their fifth for the Paraguay striker in the past six months — but Blackburn remain reluctant sellers. Tottenham Hotspur have expressed an interest, but they believe that City are more likely to meet Blackburn’s £22 million valuation.

Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager, wants to keep Santa Cruz, mindful that he will be a potent weapon in their relegation battle, but last night the club were in talks with El-Hadji Diouf after lodging a £1.5 million bid with Sunderland for the Senegal forward who played under Allardyce at Bolton Wanderers.

City’s pursuit of Given is not without its problems either, but the goalkeeper’s desire to move may ultimately help to force through a deal. Newcastle say that any transfer fee for the Ireland goalkeeper will have to be more than the £6 million offer made by City that Joe Kinnear, the manager, described as derisory.

Newcastle are holding out for at least £8 million, but Given, who withdrew from Kinnear’s squad before the 2-1 defeat by City on Wednesday evening because of a knee injury, hopes that his transfer request will speed up the process.

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