1. Barcelona prepare David Luiz bid: Goal.com reports the Catalan giants are preparing a bid for the Brazilian after making him their primary centre-back target. It is believed that Barca have enquired about Luiz’s availability and have been given encouragement that Chelsea could be willing to sell the 26-year-old. The Spanish champions, who have been rebuffed in their attempts to sign the Brazil international in the past, are putting together a lucrative package to entice the Brazilian to Camp Nou and informal discussions have already started with his representatives. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is unconvinced about Luiz’s defensive abilities and is ready to cash in on the defender and sign a new centre-half, with Doria, an 18-year-old Brazilian who plays for Botafogo, among those on his target list. Barca want to reinforce their back four by signing a left-sided centre-back to provide competition to Carles Puyol, 35, after releasing Eric Abidal. The Spanish club targeted Thiago Silva and Arsenal pair Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen earlier in the summer, and also offered £17.5m to Roma for Marquinhos before being trumped to his signature by Paris Saint-Germain. Barca have now turned their attention to landing Luiz, who has developed into a fans’ favourite at Stamford Bridge since moving from Benfica in January 2011. The player was a regular first choice under Rafael Benitez last season and was frequently picked ahead of club captain John Terry. However, new boss Mourinho has misgivings about Luiz’s defensive aptitude and wants to use the money from selling him to buy a replacement. 2. Chelsea have price set for Rooney pursuit: Chelsea are prepared to spend £30million on their pursuit of Wayne Rooney as they size up their second bid to lure the Manchester United striker to Stamford Bridge. Rooney was dismayed at his treatment by Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of last season and while new United manager David Moyes has attempted to rebuild bridges, the player’s confidence in his future at the club has been shaken. United chief executive Ed Woodward says United are in no hurry to offer Rooney a new deal, even though his current one runs out in June 2015. But Chelsea will be able to match the England striker’s £220,000-a-week wages and can offer him a four-year deal. A second Chelsea bid, expected to be £25m, is planned after an initial inquiry of £20m-plus was turned down. But United are unlikely to do a deal before they have met Chelsea at Old Trafford on August 26. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has insisted the club can make signings this summer without having to sell first, despite the restrictions of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. Mourinho said: ‘The club are working hard to keep the numbers in balance but we can still invest in a player who costs £20m, £25m, £30m and not break the balance. We don’t need to sell to do that.’ Asked if he could spend £50m on a striker, Mourinho said: ‘The striker I want doesn’t cost £50m.’ 3. Chelsea battle to keep Bertrand Traore:
There is anxiety at Chelsea that they could lose the exceptional 17-year-old midfielder Bertrand Traoré over the next six weeks before they are able to hand the teenager a professional contract on his 18th birthday in September.
The Burkina Faso international scored his second goal of the club’s Asia tour on Thursday night in Jakarta, a spectacular left-foot shot from the inside right channel. Yet afterwards, club officials tried to stop Chelsea players even discussing Traoré, claiming he was a “triallist” and attempting to divert attention away from the youngster. Under Fifa regulations, Chelsea cannot give the player a professional contract until he is 18 on 6 September, in accordance with the rule that prohibits international transfers for non-European Union players until that age. Yet it would appear that Traoré “the triallist” has been at Chelsea for some time, at least as early as September 2011. He is in the United Kingdom on a student visa. The concern for Chelsea is that the teenager, who has had an association with Auxerre in the past, is effectively a free agent. Chelsea are in the process of applying for a Home Office work permit for him, although they are not convinced they will succeed. If that is the case they would not yet be able to offer him first-team football and he could theoretically be persuaded to sign for another European club when he turns 18 on the basis they could fast-track him into the first team. Traoré was first scouted by Premier League clubs when playing as a 14-year-old for Burkina Faso at the Under-17 World Cup finals in Nigeria in 2009. In an interview he gave to the BBC in January 2011 he mentioned an interest from Chelsea. He said then: “I like Chelsea because we have Africans there – [Didier] Drogba, [Michael] Essien, [John] Obi [Mikel].” Traoré has a brother, Alain, 25, who plays for Lorient having previously been at Auxerre. Both brothers were in the squad for Burkina Faso at last year’s African Cup of Nations. 4. Chelsea target Luiz Gustavo of Bayern Munich to replace Mikel as their holding midfielder:
Blues boss Mourinho has his doubts about the Nigerian in that role and is poised to launch £15m bid for the Brazil international. Bayern’s signing of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona is likely to limit Gustavo’s first-team opportunities this season. And the player wants regular first-team football to ensure he is part of the Brazil team for next summer’s World Cup. Chelsea are also keen on bringing back midfielder Nemanja Matic – a fringe player at the Bridge from 2009-2011 – from Benfica, but his £25m price-tag is putting them off.
5. Palace keen on Chelsea youngster Chalobah: Crystal Palace are keen on Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah. The Sun says his wish for Premier League playing time could be granted by Crystal Palace. The Chelsea midfielder, 18, has been told he can leave Stamford Bridge for another loan spell after starring for Championship outfit Watford last season.