Chelsea plot raid for Ronaldo
CHELSEA owner Roman Abramovich is ready to splash out big money again by lining up an audacious €100m bid to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain as part of his major overhaul at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Undeterred by the failure of previous big-money signings like Fernando Torres, Abramovich is also considering an alternative joint bid -- a €70m offer to Napoli for Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, should their Madrid mission fail.
No contact has yet been made with the clubs but there is a sense of determination around Stamford Bridge.
One of Chelsea's chief priorities with Didier Drogba set to leave at the end of his contract, along with Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda and -- according to sources -- possibly even Daniel Sturridge, is a new-look strike force.
Abramovich's plans hinge on who he can attract as manager and whether the club can secure Champions League football.
But the Russian is prepared to open the purse strings wide as he did when he first came to Chelsea nine years ago.
The side flew out to Lisbon today ahead of the first leg of tomorrow's Champions League quarter-final against Benfica. After the goalless draw with Tottenham on Saturday, it may well be that the best chance of qualifying for next season's Champions League is to win the competition.
If Chelsea make an inquiry for Ronaldo, Real would certainly fight hard to keep a player who on Saturday became the fastest man to reach 100 goals in Spanish league history.
The Portuguese scored twice as Real beat Real Sociedad 5-1 and has now struck 101 goals in just 92 games, surpassing Ferenc Puskas's record, also achieved with Real, of 100 goals in 105 games.
Chelsea have admired Ronaldo and if they did mount a bid it would raise speculation that coach Jose Mourinho -- the pair also share an agent in Jorge Mendes -- would return to London. However, Abramovich still has serious misgivings about bringing back the former Blues manager.
Higuain would be valued at less than €20m in the deal, with Chelsea having attempted to sign the Argentine international two years ago only for the move to falter.
Chelsea's interest in Cavani and Lavezzi has grown. The club were approached about making an offer for Lavezzi, another Argentine international, last summer but decided against it, while there is a long-standing link with Cavani, the impressive Uruguayan striker.
Chelsea are still planning a clear-out of players this summer. As well as Drogba, Malouda and Kalou, the club are expected to move on Paulo Ferreira, Jose Bosingwa and Hilario even though the latter signed a contract extension.
Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard's futures are also in doubt.