Barca battle Chelsea for Zhirkov as Hiddink refuses to give game away
04 June 2009 12:21
Barcelona are planning to hijack Chelsea's bid for Russia star Yuri Zhirkov.
The newly crowned European champions are buoyed the CSKA Moscow player's comments that he would not go to Stamford Bridge to be merely a squad player.
The 25-year-old was also gushing in his praise for the Catalans in the run-up to the Champions League defeat of Manchester United.
However, Chelsea are still favourites to complete an £18.6m deal and Zhirkov would also face no guarantees of a starting place at the Nou Camp.
Pep Guardiola identified five areas to boost his treble-winning team and sees versatile Zhirkov as a two-in-one because he would cover for Eric Abidal at left-back as well as providing a threat on the left wing in the absence of Thierry Henry.
Former Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink dodged questions about Zhirkov in his first interviews since returning his full attention to the Russia national team, but he hinted that his players would benefit from playing abroad.