Sunday 18 February 2018

Chelsea's £50m raid for Higuain rejected

Mourinho's search for firepower continues after Napoli insist marksman is not for sale

Gonzalo Higuain
Gonzalo Higuain

Luke Edwards

Chelsea have had a £50m bid for Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain rejected as Jose Mourinho tries to add some much-needed firepower to his attack.

Napoli have not given any encouragement to Chelsea in their efforts to land Higuain and insist the Argentinian, who played under Mourinho at Real Madrid, is not for sale. Higuain has scored nine goals in 16 Serie A games since moving from Spain to Italy in the summer.

That may not deter Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who agrees that the lack of goals from strikers is the major weakness in the side. He is willing to back Mourinho in the transfer market, even though the club posted losses of almost £50m last season.

With German club Wolfsburg keen to sign Kevin De Bruyne, Chelsea hope to receive as much as £25m for the Belgium international, who has rarely played this season. That will help Chelsea finance the move for a forward, with other sales likely this month to help balance the books.

Juan Mata has been told by Mourinho that he still has a future at the club, but cannot be guaranteed a starting position. A bid of more than £20m would be a tempting offer for Chelsea to part with him, particularly as Mata knows he needs to be playing regularly to keep his place in the Spain side.

Should Chelsea sign a centre-forward this January, Demba Ba has been told he will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge. Ba thought he was going to Arsenal on loan in the summer, but Chelsea cancelled the proposed transfer on deadline day when Arsene Wenger landed Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid as they feared the threat of a resurgent London rival.

Ba is extremely frustrated about a lack of first-team opportunities and is likely to attract interest from former club Newcastle United, as well as West Ham and Fulham, should Chelsea give the green light to his departure.

The Senegal striker moved to Stamford Bridge only 12 months ago, but he has struggled to persuade Mourinho he is good enough to play regularly for a team looking to mount a title challenge.

The 28-year-old, who has just three goals in 23 games for Chelsea, has enjoyed prolific spells at West Ham and Newcastle since arriving in English football in January 2011. Chelsea would hope to at least recoup the £7.5m they paid for him a year ago.

They are reluctant to let Ba move to a team challenging them for the title, although Arsenal retain an interest in him and are likely to bid if the player is allowed to move this month.

Juan Mata's advisers have sought assurances that Mourinho is not planning to sell the Spain international this month after the player showed his frustration with his substitution in the victory over Southampton on Wednesday.

There was a conversation between the club and Mata's agent in which the player was assured Mourinho does not want to sell the 25-year-old. Mata has been told that he is behind Oscar in the pecking order for the playmaker role, but also that there is no desire currently for him to leave.

When he was asked about Mata's situation on Wednesday, Mourinho said: "I want to keep him. I don't want him to go. That is my opinion, my wish, but my door is open." It was that point which Mata wanted clarification on. However, there remains a strong long-term doubt over his future at the club with his position so radically downgraded under Mourinho. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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