Blues pursuit of Shaw set to spark £20m bidding war with Tottenham
Southampton are braced for Chelsea to make an approach for Luke Shaw in the January transfer window. Nicola Cortese, Southampton's executive chairman, is adamant Shaw is not for sale, but St Mary's officials do not think that will stop Chelsea trying to open talks.
If Chelsea cannot convince Cortese to sell next month, then it is believed the Stamford Bridge club will try to strike an agreement for the end of the season. Chelsea will clear space in their squad by allowing out-of-favour left-back Ryan Bertrand to leave.
Bertrand could be offered to Southampton as part of a bid for Shaw, but the 24-year-old is also admired by Liverpool, Everton and Sunderland.
Everton's interest in Bertrand would suggest manager Roberto Martinez is preparing for the possibility of losing Leighton Baines to Manchester United in the window.
Tottenham are also tracking Shaw and could be drawn into a bidding war with Chelsea for the 18-year-old, who is already valued upwards £20m.
Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, this week revealed he expects Ashley Cole to be handed a one-year contract extension. Mourinho's comments are being treated by Southampton sources as further proof that Chelsea see Shaw as Cole's long-term replacement and are planning for the 32-year-old to help the teenager settle in.
Should, as expected, Bertrand leave Chelsea next month, then Mourinho will be left with Cole and right-back Cesar Azpilicueta, who can fill in on the left. That is not seen as a major problem in the short term, but Chelsea are aware they need a long-term left-back solution, which neither Cole nor Azpilicueta provides.
Shaw has been on Chelsea's radar for some time, but announced himself to Mourinho with an impressive performance at Stamford Bridge for Southampton at the start of this month. Chelsea believe that with Cole, captain John Terry and Frank Lampard all approaching the final years of their careers, the club will need some new English talent.
Ironically, Chelsea could have signed Shaw as a youngster for nothing. He played at a club development centre in Guildford as an eight-year-old, but was not offered an academy place. Shaw grew up as a Chelsea supporter in Surrey, but was snapped up by the Saints after the Blues had judged him to be too small.
Cortese is in a strong bargaining position over Shaw, having tied the England Under-21 international to a five-year contract in July, but that is unlikely to put Chelsea off.
Cole made his first Chelsea appearance since November 2 in the Champions League victory over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday night. After the game, Cole tweeted: "Glad to be back after seven weeks and no goals against. Happy days."
Cole has used a Nike advertising campaign to send a message to any critics who believe his best days are behind him. Looking into a camera, Cole says: "Who you calling done? You think I'm done? I'm not done. I've won seven FA Cups, three Premier League titles, 105 caps. I want 130. After 13 years at the top, I should be done. But I'm not."
Meanwhile, Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has set his heart on a January move to Germany. The 22-year-old is surplus to Mourinho's requirements but is yet to obtain a definitive answer on whether he can go. The Belgian would like a permanent transfer and it is thought Wolfsburg will pay £13m for him.
Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers have announced that their striker DJ Campbell has been given time off following his arrest in the spot-fixing investigation.
The 32-year-old was one of six people detained by the National Crime Agency, and on Monday was bailed until April. But he will not play in tomorrow's game against Millwall and has been given "time off to spend with his family". Rovers manager, Gary Bowyer, said: "It has shocked everybody. Everybody in the game has talked about it, it's something that shouldn't be in the game but the proper people are going to deal with it."
Another player arrested, the Oldham winger Cristian Montano, was suspended without pay by his club on Sunday. But Tranmere's Akpo Sodje will be considered for selection against Carlisle tomorrow. The manager, Ronnie Moore, has decided to allow Sodje and his 41-year-old team-mate Ian Goodison, who was also arrested, to play on.