Cristiano Ronaldo is at the centre of a bidding war after it emerged the Manchester United target is wanted by Chelsea.
The £80million Real Madrid forward is on a summer shopping list put together by Chelsea’s incoming manager Jose Mourinho.
Although the pair have had a tempestuous relationship, Ronaldo remains one of the best players in world football.
Ronaldo favours a move back to Old Trafford if Real decide to sell him, and United have first option to sign him. But Mourinho, who has worked with Ronaldo at the Bernabeu for the past three years, has added him to his list of premium targets.
Wayne Rooney, who would prefer to move to Stamford Bridge, and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani are also wanted by Mourinho. Ronaldo was in action for Real in last night’s Spanish Cup final at the Bernabeu against Atletico
Madrid, but his future remains uncertain.
The Portugal forward, 28, has spent four seasons at Real Madrid but has become frustrated by the lack of harmony at the club.
That’s not something Chelsea are noted for either but Roman Abramovich is set to spend big this summer.
Interim Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez claimed yesterday that Abramovich is about to fund a £100m spree for his new manager.
Although Mourinho is unlikely to be able to persuade all three forwards to move to Chelsea, the club intend to move swiftly this summer.
Mourinho’s relationship with Ronaldo was under scrutiny last weekend when the forward appeared to shout ‘**** you’ at his coach after scoring his 200th goal for Real.
Ronaldo spoke in Portuguese when he pointed to the Real club badge and shouted ‘I’m here, I’m here’ in front of Mourinho as the coach prepares to quit Spain after three years in charge of the world’s biggest football club.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are prepared to excuse Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill from the second of two exhibition games in the USA next week to help England.
The trio will be allowed to return after the first friendly against Manchester City in St Louis on Wednesday and miss the return fixture in New York three days later.
It will enable them to recover in time to play for England against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on Wednesday May 29, when Cole will be presented with a Golden Cap to mark his century of international appearances.
Cole won his 100th cap against Brazil in February and his 101st in Montenegro, so England boss Roy Hodgson will offer him the chance to captain his country against the Irish to complete the tribute.
Hodgson’s squad will then fly to Brazil after the Ireland game for a friendly against the next World Cup hosts in Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana, on June 2.
City have no plans to offer Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner early release from the controversial post-season games in the US.
Chelsea will fly to the US on Monday, and John Terry and Eden Hazard are expected to miss out due to injuries.
Hazard will return to Belgium to receive treatment ahead of World Cup qualifiers next month. – Daily Mail