Monday 24 October 2016

Radamel Falcao desperate to join Chelsea

Former Manchester United striker willing to take big pay cut to link up with Jose Mourinho

Manchester United's Radamel Falcao
Manchester United's Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao is so desperate to try to secure a surprise summer move to Chelsea that he is willing to accept a big pay cut.

Manchester United have decided not to take up their option to sign Falcao permanently, but the Colombian wants to stay in the Premier League and ideally move to London.

Arsenal showed an interest in Falcao last August, but are unlikely to pursue the striker this summer – leaving Chelsea as his only hope.

Chelsea are in the market for a replacement for Didier Drogba, and Jose Mourinho and Falcao share the same agent, Jorge Mendes.

 Mendes is helping Mourinho in the Chelsea manager’s attempt to sign ­Antoine Griezmann from Atlético Madrid. He will also attempt to broker a move to Stamford Bridge for Falcao.

The Monaco forward’s wages of £265,000 a week, which United paid this season, would be a stumbling block to Chelsea, whose highest earner Eden Hazard is paid around £200,000 a week. But Falcao is prepared to scale back his demands and accept a lower wage than Hazard to try to make a move to Chelsea happen.

Whether that is enough to tempt Mourinho remains to be seen as Falcao, 29, scored just four goals for United and has clearly struggled to overcome the knee injury that forced him to miss the World Cup finals last summer.

Mourinho is a big fan of Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, who has been offered a new contract by the Italian club and has also interested Real Madrid.

 Chelsea have one Colombian at the club, Juan Cuadrado, but he has endured a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge that could be compounded by an injury he sustained during the final-day victory at home to Sunderland.

Cuadrado was forced off with a knee problem, which has prompted fears that the winger could miss the Copa América tournament next month. The 26-year-old is waiting on more news from a specialist.

Did you know Telegraph Sport has a Chelsea Facebook page?

Meanwhile, Drogba has revealed that he started receiving offers from new clubs while he was still celebrating winning the Premier League title in the Chelsea dressing room, but has promised he will never play for another English team. Drogba confirmed that he was leaving Chelsea this summer just hours before the Sunderland game.

Petr Cech, the Czech goalkeeper, will now inform the Chelsea board that he wants to find a new club to play regular first-team football.

Drogba, 37, wants to continue playing and is attracted by the prospect of following his former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to the United States. But, unlike Lampard who spent this season on loan at Manchester City from New York City, the Ivorian will not pull on the shirt of any of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals.

 “A few years ago, when I first left Chelsea, I said I will not play for another English team,” Drogba said. “No disrespect, there are some really fantastic teams in the Premier League. But my love for this club, I can’t share it with another English team.

“Since I put the news I am leaving Chelsea on social media, I was in the dressing room and I was receiving some calls from teams which is really, really unusual. It was funny and interesting because it showed that maybe I can still bring something to a team. Of course, I’m interested in the USA. Now I’m going to have a few days and weeks to think about what is good for me next, but all I want is to play.”

Drogba made 40 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions this season, scoring seven goals. But the ­Ivorian started just 14 of those games and decided he needs to play more as he gets close to retirement.

“I spoke with Jose [Mourinho] and the board [before I signed], saying I just want to play and finish maybe on a high, being tired and saying: ‘I really gave everything and I can’t give no more,’ ” Drogba said. “This year, I didn’t have that feeling. In fact, I felt that I could still play and I just want to enjoy myself before I say 'I stop’.”

 This season’s Premier League title success and Capital One Cup victory means Drogba has won 12 competitions with Chelsea – including the 2012 Champions League. “I think I played enough games to give a contribution to win the league,” he said. “That’s the most important thing. When I see all the players we have in this squad, playing the amount of games I did, I feel myself not lucky, happy, because I gave a good contribution.

“I’ve got such great memories with this club and I wanted to prove that I could come back at the very highest level possible, playing Champions League games, scoring in Champions League games with Chelsea. Winning the League with Chelsea, that was what I really wanted when I came back. If we had won the Champions League it would have been the perfect season, but I can’t ask for too much.”

 Drogba has held talks with the Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, and Mourinho over how he could eventually return to the club in a non‑playing capacity, but insists he is an ambassador for them wherever he goes. “We’ll find what is best for me at this club. We have time for that. But I am one of the ambassadors for this club,” the Ivorian said. “Everywhere I go, when I go abroad, people mention Chelsea all the time. It's good to know people recognise you as a Chelsea player, a Chelsea ambassador.”

Sunday was also a Stamford Bridge farewell for Cech, who will now ask Chelsea for permission to leave the club, with Arsenal and Manchester United interested. “It’s his decision and I think the club will respect that,” Drogba said. “If he wants to go, it’s his choice, so it’s up to him.”

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