Blues to offload Torres as Rooney hopes grow
Chelsea will sell Fernando Torres or Demba Ba should they be successful in landing Wayne Rooney this summer and are still confident of going into the season with the England striker as their first-choice centre-forward.
Signing Rooney is Chelsea's biggest priority this summer and with two years left on his deal, they are confident he will not sign another contract at Old Trafford.
The club still believe that they can pull off the signing in this transfer window and have not been dissuaded by any of the public pronouncements by Manchester United's new manager David Moyes that Rooney is not for sale.
Chelsea regard the potential availability of Rooney much the way Alex Ferguson saw Robin van Persie's situation at Arsenal last summer. Chelsea feel that he is the kind of player who very rarely becomes available and that given there is a chance of acquiring him, they have to make sure they are at the front of the queue.
The plan agreed with Jose Mourinho is that should the Rooney deal be sorted, either Ba or Torres will go – but not Romelu Lukaku, who is part of the squad that flies to Bangkok today on the first part of a three-game tour of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. That would leave the Chelsea manager with three centre-forwards in his squad.
Chelsea's confidence over Rooney appears to be born of a belief that United will eventually decide to cash in on a player who is not happy at the club. Even without Ferguson's claims on the last day of the season – rejected in private by the Rooney camp – that he asked for a transfer, United would still have a major decision to make over Rooney.
With two years left on his deal, Rooney (27) is at a point in his contract cycle where the club must either tie him to a longer deal or cash in on him.
The received wisdom in negotiations is that once a player goes into the final two seasons of his contract, then his position becomes progressively stronger as time elapses.
Although Mourinho and the Chelsea hierarchy would sanction the sale of Torres or Ba in the event of signing Rooney, there will be no further departures from the squad.
Chelsea would not be interested in a part-exchange deal for Rooney involving Juan Mata. The club will also not countenance selling David Luiz.
Ba has attracted interest from Fenerbahce and the club believe that there will always be a market for Torres.
Rooney was part of United's tour squad that embarked for Thailand a day ahead of Chelsea yesterday. United play the Singha All-Star XI on Monday, two days before the same side play Chelsea.
Moyes insisted that his relationship with Rooney was good and that the pair had visited one another's homes to discuss the future.
"The club has already stated that Wayne is staying and is not for sale," said Moyes. "I have met Wayne two, three, four times and he's here every day. There has been a lot said about Wayne and myself over the years, but we have a really good relationship. I have got him back to Goodison Park several times over the last few years.
"Wayne came up to my house and I came up to his house to meet him and have a chat. He is training great. The team here are telling me that it's the best shape they've seen him in for five years, so I am taking it as a positive. We have stated he is not for sale and I am going to try to get the best Wayne Rooney that I possibly can."
Meanwhile, Nemanja Vidic's sciatica problem has forced him to miss the first leg of the pre-season tour. (© Independent News Service)