LONDON • Chelsea on Tuesday sanctioned the sale of Oscar to Shanghai SIPG after the Chinese Super League club, now managed by Andre Villas-Boas, formalised their long-standing interest and tabled an offer worth up to £60 million (S$108 million) for the Brazil midfielder.
The Premier League leaders accepted that bid on the day they were fined £100,000 by the Football Association for the part they played in the touchline melee in stoppage time at Manchester City this month.
The level of that sanction reflected the reality that it was their fifth charge of failing to control their players within 19 months - City, who had two players sent off, must pay only £35,000 - but Chelsea avoided a points deduction for repeated breaches of rule E20a.
The incident has, however, served as a reminder to Antonio Conte's side that the threat of the more severe punishment is real as they seek a 10th successive Premier League win, at Sunderland, this morning (Singapore time).
They are expected to be without Oscar for that game on Wearside, with the Brazilian understood to have told his team-mates he will leave at the end of the month.
The 25-year-old had started the first five Premier League games of Conte's tenure, but has been reduced to a bit-part role since and has played 36 minutes of the Blues' current nine-match winning run.
Villas-Boas, who endured an unhappy eight-month spell in charge at Stamford Bridge in 2011, is a long-time admirer and had first attempted to sign the attacking midfielder, then with Internacional, for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012, only for the Brazilian to opt to move to Chelsea in a £19.5 million deal.
Both Guangzhou Evergrande, coached by another former Chelsea manager in Luiz Felipe Scolari, and Jiangsu Suning, who made their own interest known last summer, have continued to track Oscar, but Villas-Boas is confident he will be able to deflect any late rival bids and secure the player.
This sale would grant Conte considerable leeway as he seeks to reinforce his squad, with interest likely to be expressed in the Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk.
That potential move is more likely to progress at the end of the season, with the Saints reluctant sellers.
Regardless, the sale of Oscar will rule out any transfer for Cesc Fabregas mid-season, with Conte having reiterated on Tuesday that the Spaniard remains "an important player".
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE