at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that his side is interested in signing former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.
Asked if Chelsea had an interest in the Spain international, Mourinho told reporters in London: “We have some. I have (an) interest in analysing the situation.”
Fabregas, 27, returned to Barcelona, his formative club, from Arsenal in August 2011 and has won five trophies over the past three seasons at Camp Nou.
However, despite making more starts than any other Barcelona midfielder last season, he has been linked with a return to England, and Mourinho said that Chelsea were keeping a close eye on the situation.
“I think it looks like he's really interested in leaving Barcelona, and is very, very interested in coming back to England,” said the Portuguese, who is working as an analyst for Yahoo! during the World Cup.
“This I think is clear. After that it's not something for us, or another team, for now. It's not for now, or tomorrow, or for before the World Cup.
“There is a process where he wants to leave, he wants to come to England because it's the country where he wants to be, where he prefers to play. We are interested in monitoring the situation.”
Fabregas left Barcelona's academy to join Arsenal at the age of 16 in 2003 and quickly became the youngest player and goal-scorer in the North London club's history.
He won the FA Cup in 2005 and was named captain in November 2008, but returned to Barcelona three years ago in a deal reportedly worth an initial fee of £25.4 million (R455m).
The BBC reported on Thursday that Arsenal have informed Barcelona that they have decided not to activate a buy-back option in Fabregas's contract.
Mourinho's remarks come after Fabregas's club-mate and international colleague Gerard Pique was caught on camera apparently letting slip that the attacking midfielder had agreed to leave Barcelona.
Pique shielded his hand with his mouth to speak to national team coach Vicente del Bosque during a promotional event in Washington DC, where Spain are preparing for the World Cup, but his words were picked up by a microphone.
“He's told me it's done,” Pique could be heard saying. “He is going. He told me 33 million.”
However, Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo said that the pair's smiles raised suspicions that the remarks were actually a practical joke on the media.