Shevchenko signing might be tough, admits Jose

May 16, 2006

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is prepared to tough it with AC Milan in order to land striker Andriy Shevchenko.

Mourinho spent most of last summer locked in a battle of wills with Lyon before eventually landing midfielder Michael Essien for £24.4million.

Shevchenko has made clear his desire to leave Italy - but the Ukrainian is tied to the San Siro until June 2009 and could cost upwards of £30million.

Money is not an issue for Chelsea and Mourinho, who has already signed Germany captain Michael Ballack, is determined to build a squad capable of immediate success in the Champions League.

But the Chelsea boss does not expect AC Milan to green light Shevchenko's departure without a fight.

'I cannot say that Shevchenko does not interest me, but AC Milan are a very powerful club,' said Mourinho.

'They don't need to sell players in order to buy good players. It's going to be very difficult.'

Mourinho added after signing Ballack: 'To improve the fantastic squad we have, you can go in two directions - young players you can work with, improve and have success in a couple of years, or the best players in the world.'

Shevchenko is not Chelsea's only potential target. Mourinho recently travelled to watch Argentina World Cup striker Carlos Tevez play for Corinthians against River Plate in the Copa Libertadores.

And Tevez, 22, is convinced he is on the brink of a move to Stamford Bridge.

'Chelsea intend to take me,' he said. 'It's difficult to distance myself from them because they have shown a lot of affection towards me and my family.

'He's (Mourinho) looking at what's there. There must have been a reason to come to see me play.'

Chelsea do not appear to share the player's enthusiasm as club chief executive Peter Kenyon played down suggestions over the weekend that Tevez is set to sign.

'We have looked at him and he is a good player and does a good job but all the reports of him being linked with us are not right. I would be surprised to see him in a Chelsea shirt next season,' said Kenyon.

But Mourinho has admitted he would be interested in signing Benfica winger Simao if one of his four wingers was to leave in the summer.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, after missing out on World Cup selection, has been linked with both a loan move back to Manchester City and a summer switch to Liverpool.

Liverpool were chasing Simao during the January transfer window and thought a deal had been done for the Portugal international, only for Benfica to up their asking price at the last minute.

Mourinho is not interested in adding to his current crop of wide men - Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben and Damian Duff - but Simao would be an ideal replacement should one of them move on.

'Chelsea have four great quality wingers and as long as we keep them, I'm not thinking of Simao,' said Mourinho. 'If one of them were to leave, then it could be hypothetical.'