Chelsea race to complete Mattia Destro signing as Fernando Torres closes in on AC Milan move
Chelsea will attempt to thrash out the departure of £50 million flop Fernando Torres on Friday, but face a race against time to replace him with Roma forward Mattia Destro.
The representatives of Torres are in England to speak with Chelsea officials about the terms of the Spaniard’s exit to AC Milan.
Chelsea are hoping to negotiate a permanent deal for Torres, rather than a loan, that will finally free them of his £175,000-a-week wages for good. But Torres, who is interested in moving to Milan, and his representatives believe the striker is entitled to a severance payment because he has two years remaining on his contract.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has already targeted Destro to replace Torres as the club’s third-choice striker behind Diego Costa and Didier Drogba. It is understood that there has already been a meeting between Chelsea and Roma over Destro. But the Italian club are under no pressure to sell after securing £24million from Bayern Munich for central defender Medhi Benatia.
Roma would also want a replacement lined up before agreeing to let £19 million-rated Destro go so late in the transfer window. The 23-year-old’s wages would not be a problem for Chelsea, as he earns around £25,000 a week in Italy.
Other than Destro, Chelsea could look at Porto’s Jackson Martinez or even Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy.
Chelsea are ready to make one more signing before the transfer window shuts on Monday night. Replacing Torres with Destro would not help their foreign player problem and would still leave the club with one too many overseas stars.
Petr Cech is preparing himself to fight for the goalkeeper position with Thibaut Courtois until January, which means Marco van Ginkel could still leave on loan, even though he is not keen on joining Milan.
Chelsea’s interest in Destro and willingness to let Torres leave is not linked to the fitness of Costa, who suffered a hamstring problem on Wednesday.
Costa did not train with the rest of the Chelsea squad on Thursday as the club continued to assess the extent of the problem, but he has not yet given up hope of playing against Everton on Saturday.
Torres is yet to play a single minute this season and his former Chelsea team-mate Demba Ba believes the 30-year-old needs to follow him out of Stamford Bridge to 'find happiness'. Atletico Madrid have also inquired about taking their former forward back on loan.
Ba quit Chelsea this summer to join Turkish club Besiktas after becoming frustrated at sitting next to Torres on the Chelsea substitutes’ bench.
“I wish Fernando the best, I just wish he is going to find happiness,” said Ba. “I don’t know where he will be happy, but I just want him to have happiness because he is a nice guy.” Asked whether Torres can find happiness at Chelsea, Ba added: “Hard.”
Ba defended Torres against accusations of being happy to collect his astronomical Chelsea wages from the sidelines.
“It is difficult to sit on the bench, because what you like to do is play football,” Ba said. “It’s hard when you are always on the bench, but you just have to keep your head up and work hard.
“People think footballers are happy to just take money, but we are in training every day, every single day we are working hard. People only see the 90 minutes we play at the weekend and they see the money we are spending. Of course, we have a lot of money but if we have the money it is because the money is there.
“Of course, we are happy to make a lot of money and, of course, a lot of people would love to be in our position, but they are not because they do not have the quality to be there.
“I could have stayed at Chelsea and just kept collecting the money. I would have been in a better position this season because I spoke to Jose and he was impressed with the end of the season I had. He told me I would be in a better position this season, but I just wanted to go and enjoy myself.”
Ba and Besiktas were knocked out of the Champions League by Arsenal and the 29-year-old revealed how he dreamed of playing for the Gunners while he was a Chelsea player.
Arsenal tried to sign Ba on loan last summer, but Chelsea blocked the transfer and the Senegal international believes he could have helped solve the club’s current striker crisis following Olivier Giroud’s injury.
Asked how close he came to joining Arsenal, Ba said: “As close as you and me here, but it’s past. I just look forward.
“I wanted to join Arsenal. Even when I was in Chelsea, everybody knew that I wanted to come to Arsenal. I could have maybe waited longer in this transfer window, but I wanted to go and play for Besiktas because it’s a great club. Last summer, Jose wanted to keep me, but he said this time if I had any opportunity he would let me go. But I’m happy here at Besiktas.”