Jose Mourinho is not convinced Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas, with whom he has had several run-ins in the past, is the right player for Chelsea, with the Stamford Bridge board apparently far more enthusiastic about the purchase than the manager.
Mourinho’s willingness to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United last January underlined how he does not always value players in the small, playmaking role and sources in Portugal have indicated he will need to be persuaded that an outlay of £30m on Barcelona’s Fabregas is the best use of that money. Mourinho feels that the talented Brazilian Oscar already meets that requirement in the Chelsea squad and his preferences are Atletico Madrid’s Koke – who Barcelona covet – and Juventus’s former Manchester United star Paul Pogba.
Mourinho will also have to put aside his past disputes with Fabregas if the west London side are to provide a return route to the Premier League for the 27-year-old former Arsenal player.
Fabregas said four months ago that his Barcelona side’s critics – he meant Mourinho – should “shut up” after the Spaniards’ win at Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16. “Some people want us to fail and some people have been talking a bit much as usual,” Fabregas said, pointedly.
Mourinho is also far more interested in signing Porto’s French central defender Eliaquim Mangala, having shipped David Luiz out to Paris Saint-Germain. Manchester City – whose bid to buy the £15m Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernando from Porto is a done deal – also want Mangala to bolster their central defence. But the Premier League champions appear to have their work cut out. Mangala views Chelsea as a more desirable prospect and City, subject to wage constraints imposed by their Uefa Financial Fair Play settlement, may need to out-spend their rivals on wages if they are to get the 22-year-old.
Though Portuguese connections will help – Mourinho and Mangala share an agent in Jorge Mendes – Chelsea also have Porto’s high €40m (£32.5m) asking price to contend with. City found it impossible to negotiate Porto president Pinto da Costa down last January and the Portuguese club’s determination not to yield saw Paris Saint-Germain buy Luiz instead, earlier this month. The spending power of Monaco may be another option for Mangala but he is understood to prefer a club with international prestige.
The view from within Portugal is that the Frenchman faces a challenge returning to the heights he scaled for Porto the season before last. His last season was characterised by a number of errors in key games, including three during the Portuguese side’s Europa League elimination by Seville. Neither City nor Chelsea appear to view the purchase as a risky one, though. It is a widely held view among Premier League managers that Mangala’s pace, vision and awareness make him the most complete young centre half currently on the market in Europe.
The Fernando deal is a source of less anxiety to City. Though the announcement of a deal to sign the 26-year-old has been anticipated for some time, it is understood that City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain have been tied up by their personal involvement in the deal which will see their compatriot David Villa become the first signing for New York City FC, owned by their Abu Dhabi proprietors. Fernando’s lack of World Cup duties will also expedite his move to City, who will progress the signing of Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract at the end of this month.