Chelsea face fight with Real Madrid over Neymar
Chelsea will find out next week whether they can sign the exciting Brazilian striker Neymar without triggering a €4m buy-out clause.
The agent, Pini Zahavi, is due to fly to Brazil for talks with Neymar’s club, Santos, and to try and head off a move by Real Madrid.
Chelsea had hoped to sign Neymar for around €30m but there are indications that Real might offer close to €40m for the 19 year-old, who is a favourite of Roman Abramovich.
At the same time Chelsea are set to bow out of the bidding to secure Alexis Sanchez, having grown weary of the efforts of his club, Udinese, to ramp up the transfer fee for the Chilean winger.
Although Manchester City have made it clear they will beat any bid made for Sanchez it’s believed the player would prefer a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United who have also register an interest.
Representatives from United and Udinese were in Barcelona yesterday for a series of talks over Sanchez’s future after public statements from the Italian club’s president that City had lodged the highest bid.
Chelsea had earmarked Sanchez, Neymar and Luka Modric as their main summer targets but there is a fear that they might miss out on all three players.
Abramovich is particularly keen on Neymar and may become involved in the talks although he is extremely reluctant to pay the buy-out fee although he may have to if Real make an official bid.
It had been thought that Neymar might remain at Santos for one more year having failed to agree a deal to move to Chelsea last summer.
Tottenham Hotspur are adamant that Modric is not for sale but Chelsea are preparing to test that resolve by offering £35m for the-year-old Croatian play-maker who is also wanted by United, although they have turned their attention to Arsenal’s Samir Nasri.
Chelsea, who are close to securing deals for Anderlecht’s Romelu Lukaku and the Genk winger Kevin De Bruyne, are not interested in signing Nasri.
On Tuesday the club’s chief executive Ron Gourlay said that “two or three key players that we’d like to bring into the team” had been identified.
He added: “But of course we’ll probably have to wait until the new coach is in place.”
That, it’s understood, is not necessarily the case although Gourlay suggested that Chelsea expect to announce the new manager within the next two weeks and before the players report for pre-season training in July 4.
He refused to be drawn on Guus Hiddink, who is set to be offered a 12-month contract by Abramovich with the option for a further year as manager once he has secured his release as Turkey’s coach, which moved a step closer on Tuesday with the announcement by the president of the country’s football federation that he would not be standing for re-election.
Mahmut Ozgener’s decision to stand down, because he lacked support, removes a key ally for Hiddink and also gives the 64-year-old an excuse to negotiate himself out of the final year of his contract.
However Chelsea are reluctant to pay the €4m compensation being demanded by the Turks to release Hiddink and Abramovich is still mulling over his options having considered moves for Jose Mourinho and, even, Mark Hughes.
Gourlay, who was in Hong Kong to promote a Chelsea club initiative, and ahead of the club’s summer tour to the Far East, said: “It’s a big season for us coming up.
"Things didn’t go as well as we hoped last season and plans are very much in place for next season to be back winning trophies.
“As far as the manager is concerned, the process is going well but now is not the time for me to comment on who the next manager is going to be.
Hopefully in the next week or two, we’ll be in a position to announce who our new coach will be.”