| Ancelotti |
Chelsea remain confident that Carlo Ancelotti will become their new manager and are already discussing their summer transfer plans with the Italian, who has signed a pre-contract agreement on a three-year deal to take over at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.
As part of those talks, Ancelotti has told Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that he would like to bring players with him from AC Milan, in particular Andrea Pirlo and Kaka, who is likely to leave the San Siro.
While those discussions are at an early stage, and no specific moves have been made as yet, sources close to Ancelotti on Wednesday dismissed suggestions the 49-year-old was having second thoughts about joining Chelsea or had been set an ultimatum by Abramovich. Claims that Ancelotti, who was in London last week, held a meeting on Monday evening with Chelsea representatives were rejected.
Instead a source close to Ancelotti insisted, as this newspaper reported last month, it was a done deal that the coach would leave Milan after eight years in charge — a sense that was fuelled by comments attributed to club owner Silvio Berlusconi in Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
With Milan trailing Inter by seven points in Serie A, Berlusconi, who is in Egypt as part of his duties as Italian prime minister, is reported to have told tourists at the Sharm el Sheikh resort that it is all Ancelottis fault that the club will not win a trophy this season.
While conflicting comments have swirled around Ancelotti for months, and should be treated with caution, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani did little to refute the claims Wednesday.
Abramovich has pursued Ancelotti for some time — despite the fact that the coach has worked only in Italy — because of his pedigree of winning the Champions League.
Abramovich has already made clear to Ancelotti that he will pursue a bid for Arsenals Emmanuel Adebayor — who the Italian wanted at Milan — and Carlos Tevez, who is expected to leave Manchester United this summer.
An offer for CSKA Moscows Yuri Zhirkov is also being prepared.
Some of Ancelottis most important players at Milan can be added to that wish list. Pirlo, who is 30 next week and has two years left on his contract, has attracted interest from Chelsea in the past and has been key to Ancelottis plans at Milan, where he has evolved into the clubs play-maker. The Italy international has indicated in the past that he does not want to leave Milan but could be tempted this time.
Chelsea have pursued Kaka previously, only for Milan to resist, but it became clear in Manchester Citys negotiations to sign the Brazilian in January that the Italians were willing to do business.
The likelihood is that Kaka will move to Real Madrid but Chelsea may join the bidding, even if they would prefer not to get into an auction involving Real and, possibly, City.
Ancelotti is likely to bring assistant Mauro Tassotti with him to Chelsea, while a lobby has started to replace him at the San Siro with Marco van Basten.
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti had been considered Milans first choice but Van Bastens sudden departure from Ajax may change Berlusconis thinking, especially as he knows that the appointment of such a popular former player would be accepted by the clubs supporters.
Chelsea will have to wait until the end of this week, or even the beginning of next, to discover from Uefa what charges Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Jose Bosingwa and, possibly, John Terry plus the club themselves, may face following last weeks turbulent Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.