Old lady may tempt Mourinho

Juve could sweeten deal, swopping Pogba for Chelsea trio of Ramires, Cuadrado and Oscar

LONDON • Juventus are interested in signing Ramires and Juan Cuadrado as Chelsea employ the final days of what Blues manager Jose Mourinho calls the "opportunity window" to retool their squad.

Pedro's €30 million (S$47 million) acquisition from Barcelona has left Mourinho's squad heavy on players comfortable on the right side of the attack, encouraging Juventus in their parallel pursuits of Ramires and Cuadrado.

Colombia winger Cuadrado has failed to establish himself at Chelsea since Mourinho used some of the funds raised by the winter sales of Andre Schuerrle and Ryan Bertrand to bring him from Serie A.

Ramires, who was essentially the first reserve to the uncharacteristically small group of players Mourinho deployed as regular starters last season, is often used as a more defensively-minded right winger.

Juventus, nicknamed Old Lady, want the Brazilian to restock a midfield depleted by Andrea Pirlo's departure to the Major League Soccer and Arturo Vidal's sale to Bayern Munich.

They are offering to take Cuadrado on a season's loan, possibly with a guaranteed option to buy.

Mourinho's view is that his squad were overstretched last season, all of Chelsea's major opponents have spent aggressively (and many of their lesser ones astutely), and, to achieve the club's targets, he needs a larger group.

While he would be prepared to sacrifice Cuadrado to raise cash for the priority position of centre-back, he does not want to send the South American out on a low-income generating loan.

Juve could convince Mourinho by wrapping Cuadrado, Ramires and Oscar - another player coveted by their coach Massimo Allegri - into a football agent's dream of a transaction for Paul Pogba, but there would be significant obstacles.

First, Juve promised Allegri that the club's principal asset would remain under his management for one more season - Vidal and Pirlo's exits were based on this.

Second, Juve want the £72.5 million (S$159.5 million) of income from Pogba's planned sale to hit their balance books in a year's time.

The club are now enjoying the revenue from last season's run to the Champions League final.

Third, the Italian champions already have a lucrative deal in place to sell the France midfielder to Spanish club Barcelona.

The latter are prevented by a Fifa transfer ban from registering Pogba in the current window.

Barca set up their agreement with Juve without accepting agent Mino Raiola's requirement that his client's financial terms be tripled to £8.7 million a season, after tax.

A re-emboldened Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich could meet such a figure but only by ripping up the break-even strategy of recent years. And the club still have a new stadium to build.

While Mourinho - the only manager to win the Premier League on a net negative spend on transfer fees - wants investment in the squad, he has long shied away from buying at the very top of the market.

In his current spell at Chelsea, the highest fee is Diego Costa's at just over £30 million.

His most expensive purchase at Real Madrid was Angel di Maria for £18.1 million plus £7.9 million in variables. And at Inter Milan, he won the Champions League with a negative net spend.

Chelsea's desperate need for a central defender, however, may see Everton's John Stones exceed Diego's price.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'Old lady may tempt Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe