Chelsea still in the hunt for Shevchenko

May 23, 2006

Chelsea will learn in the next 48 hours whether they will land AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko but may have to wait until after the World Cup to continue their pursuit of Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Shevchenko insists he will reveal his future plans on Thursday while Van Nistelrooy, linked with a £15million switch to Stamford Bridge, has decided to leave his options open until after the finals in Germany.

Ironically, the Chelsea player most likely to be used as part of the deal to lure Van Nistelrooy, Eidur Gudjohnsen, has been the subject of transfer interest from England and elsewhere in Europe.

Chelsea remain hopeful of landing Shevchenko despite reports suggesting the Italian club were guilty of tapping up Blues striker Didier Drogba.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon confirmed they were still in the hunt for Shevchenko as well as hinting at signing more younger players.

Kenyon said: 'We have evolved to the stage where we are back-to-back champions and we should not underestimate what an achievement that is, particularly in a domestic league like the English Premiership.

'It was felt what we wanted to do was bring in a different type of player. Michael Ballack fits that bill, the likes of a Shevchenko fit that bill. That type of player comes with an age and comes with an experience, probably outside the Premier League.

'If we get both those players, I guarantee that we will also have two very exciting younger players that will be the future of Chelsea.

'There will be a continued development of our youth - more (Lassana) Diarras - the best in their class at their age. They will be added to the team with some older players.'

Drogba, who stated last week that he no longer liked playing in England, was told he would see out the remaining two years of his contract at Stamford Bridge by coach Jose Mourinho.

Now the Ivory Coast striker, signed by Chelsea for a club record £24.4million, insists staying in London has its attractions.

Drogba, 28, said: 'I am still under contract with Chelsea for two years. In London there are a lot of clubs, so it is easier for the daily life.

'In England the fans don't come to talk to you or to ask you for photos. The Arsenal fans do not come to ask me for autographs!'

But while Shevchenko's decision maybe imminent, Van Nistelrooy is in no hurry to decide whether to remain at Old Trafford or move on.

The Holland striker's future at United appears to be in doubt after and amazing fall-out with Sir Alex Ferguson prior to the final Barclays Premiership game, against Charlton, earlier this month which led the United boss to order Van Nistelrooy out of the team hotel.

He also missed Roy Keane's testimonial and that episode soured relations with Ferguson further.

When quizzed on Dutch television programme NOS Studio Sport whether he felt United wanted to be rid of him, the United striker replied: 'You could have that feeling. I don't have that feeling, it's not that certain. No-one has said that to me so far.

'What has happened is not a positive sign. You get that and you weigh it up.

'But, as long as I can't do anything about it, I won't be preoccupied with it. Nothing will be worked out before the World Cup.'

Gudjohnsen, the player likely to move in the opposite direction if Chelsea succeed with their pursuit of the Dutchman, is now the subject of much interest from clubs in Europe.

His father and agent Arnor Gudjohnsen said: 'There are a few options for Eidur, but nothing concrete as yet. There is interest from Spain and England.

'There have been many clubs linked and Eidur is looking into all his options as he has to take into consideration a lot of things like his family.'

Meanwhile, Chelsea's German international Robert Huth, linked with a £4million move to Wigan, has admitted to being frustrated with life on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Huth said: 'When you are almost always just a substitute it is physically and mentally a much more difficult situation than when you play a complete season.

'You somehow break down when you practice and practice and in the last training before a game you learn that you will again not be on the team', the 21-year-old told German newspaper Die Welt.