Saturday, 20 March 2010

Abramovich got some shopping to do ...

With Chelsea's Champions League ambitions in tatters for another season, and Roman Abramovich apparently in the mood to spend, we take a closer look at some of the big-money targets being bandied around the back pages.

The Liverpool ace has repeatedly spoken of his commitment to the Merseyside club, but that dedication is being tested to breaking this season. Having left Atletico Madrid, his boyhood club, in search of major honours, the prospect of missing out on a Champions League place again next season will not be going down too well in the Spaniard's camp.Torres has reportedly demanded four or five high profile signings before committing his future to Liverpool, but with ongoing boardroom unrest and financial constraints, such lavish enhancement of the current squad seems unlikely.

Chelsea will have to pay an enormous fee to land Torres, but if the Spaniard gives the slightest indication that he would be open to a move to the capital, Abramovich won't think twice about splashing out on one of the world's most revered forwards.

Possible price: £50m

Likelihood: 3/10

Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich, 26)

Linked with every major European club in every transfer window, it is thought that the tricky Bayern Munich winger will finally secure a move in the summer. Despite a long-winded reticence from Bayern to sell one of their prized assets, last summer's arrival of Arjen Robben from Real Madrid, and the sizeable transfer fee Ribery will command are likely to be sufficient for them to allow the Frenchman his move.

With John Terry publicly lobbying last summer for Chelsea to sign the man described by Zinedine Zidane as "the jewel of French football", the will be amongst the first in line when the next window opens on July 1.

Possible price: £40m

Likelihood: 6/10

Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid, 21)

The little Argentine has been strongly linked with a move to Chelsea since scoring a fabulous brace for Atletico Madrid against the Blues in the group stage of this year's Champions League. In the past, the main stumbling block in any move for Diego Maradona's future son-in-law was his astronomic wage demands, combined with a reputed £40m transfer fee. However, with Abramovich seemingly intent on spending as much as is necessary for Europe's top talent, a move that would see 24 year-old Aguero become comfortably one of Chelsea's highest earners may well be given the green light this summer.

Possible price: £35-40m

Likelihood: 5/10

David Villa (Valencia, 28)

Another player repeatedly linked to the top clubs in Europe, Valencia's David Villa is a rare commodity: one of the most prolific talents in European football, seemingly open to a move, and at a club apparently desperate to sell their top players. Unfortunately for Chelsea, the reason he is yet to leave Valencia is the club's insistence in recouping top dollar (reportedly at least £40m) for their forward, regardless of their perilous financial situation. With such an enormous price tag coupled with Villa's previously stated desire to stay in La Liga, Madrid has always been his likeliest destination. However, with Real's big spending apparently over, and Villa's January assertion that he admires the Premier League, Chelsea may well be in pole position to finally land the Spanish league's 10th all-time leading scorer.

Possible price: £30m

Likelihood: 6/10

Angel Di Maria (Benfica, 22)

A less established name than others on this list, Di Maria's performances for Benfica this season have attracted a host of European giants to register their interest in the highly-rated 22 year-old winger. Central to Benfica's 5-0 Europa League demolition of Everton earlier this season, the Argentine has already hinted an ability to flourish against Premier League opposition. However, Chelsea will likely face competition from both Manchester clubs, as well as Barcelona, for his signature in the summer. Furthermore, having seen their young star recently put pen to paper on a five-year contract featuring a £36m get-out clause, Benfica appear more than happy to play hardball with potential suitors, suggesting Chelsea may have to pay well over the odds to get their man.

Possible price: £25-35m

Likelihood: 8/10

Maicon (Internazionale, 28)

A player linked to Chelsea long before his outstanding display on Tuesday night, a move for Internazionale's right-back Maicon may well spell the end of Jose Bosingwa's Chelsea career. Frustrated by injuries, the Blues' full-back was repeatedly linked to Bayern Munich last summer as a makeweight in a move for Franck Ribery. If Bosingwa were to make a move when the transfer window next opens, Abramovich will surely seek to replace him with Inter's Brazilian, who auditioned so ruthlessly at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The big question is, if Jose Mourinho manages to guide Inter to Champions League glory, will Maicon want to leave?

Possible price: £35m

Likelihood: 4/10

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, 25)

With the capacity to play centrally or on either wing, Schweinsteiger offers a diverse attacking threat which could prove very useful if Chelsea choose to dispense with utility player Juliano Belletti in the summer. Having spent his entire senior career at Bayern Munich, rumours persist that the German midfielder is ready for a new challenge, with Chelsea ready to swoop should they fail to land Franck Ribery when the transfer window opens.

Possible price: £25m

Likelihood: 8/10

Marek Hamsik (Napoli, 22)

Napoli's young Slovakian playmaker seems a perfect fit for Chelsea: tall, strong, and expensive. However, at a rumoured £20m, Hamsik represents good value compared to the more stellar names on this list, as well as being young enough to fit with Abramovich's intent to rejuvenate his ageing squad. Currently excelling in a stagnating Serie A, Hamsik will likely garner furious attention from a host of clubs this summer, despite Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis issuing a 'hands off' warning earlier this month.

Possible price: £20m

Likelihood: 7/10

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