Zhirkov on verge of 18m Chelsea deal as Russia star's dream Barca move dies
Yuri Zhirkov is expected to be a Chelsea player by the middle of next week. The versatile Russia wide man is ready to sign a four-year contract worth £80,000 a week and an £18million fee has reportedly been agreed with CSKA Moscow. The deal was agreed in principle six months ago but has been complicated by Zhirkov's preference for playing for Barcelona and his fear of being just a squad player at Stamford Bridge. But Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who spoke to Zhirkov after Russia's match in Finland earlier this month, is said to have assured the 25-year-old he will be highly valued by new boss Carlo Ancelotti. Zhirkov can play left wing or left back and there is a suggestion that Salomon Kalou could be off-loaded by the Blues' new Italian boss. Former AC Milan boss Ancelotti has given the green light to the Zhirkov deal after seeing Russia's 3-0 win in Helsinki and was also said to be interested in Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko. However, no enquiry has been made for the White Hart Lane man. The Euro 2008 star has put a dampener on the move by declaring a childhood love for Barcelona. And although the European champions are keen, they are put off by the high fee and are turning to Deportivo la Coruna's Brazilian full-back Filipe Luis, who will cost half the price. CSKA boss Zico is resigned to losing his star player and has already handed a list of targets to club president Yevgeny Giner. But the rueful Brazil legend admits: 'CSKA without Zhirkov is like Manchester United without (Cristiano) Ronaldo or Barcelona without (Lionel) Messi.'
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