Kaka to Chelsea, Lampard to Inter, and other rumours

The holidays are over, not just for me but for the players too. Yesterday was officially the first day of pre-season training at Cobham, which means our opening Premier League game against Portsmouth is just around the corner, there are only 38 days to go before we see the first competitive action of a brand new season.

Between now and then expect the transfer rumours to get increasingly silly. To kick things off, we’ve been linked with a move for AC Milan’s Kaka, although in this particular instance the rumour wasn’t started by a red top hack but by Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani, who told Italian newspaper La Stampa: “We received an astronomical offer from Chelsea for Kaka.”

Of course Chelsea have played down the claims.

Meanwhile, Milan technical director Leonardo told BBC Sport that Kaka will not be leaving Milan under any circumstances. He contradicted his vice-president by saying: “We have not received an official bid for Kaka. He is very close to AC Milan and has a very, very good relationship with the club.”

Fair enough. But I was as sceptical about the Andriy Shevchenko rumours of two summers ago as I am about our link with Kaka, so it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that we are indeed trying to prize the Brazilian midfielder from Milan, who, let’s not forget, failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

In the same interview Leonardo confirmed that Milan are still tracking Didier Drogba and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor. Drogba himself has been unusually quiet during the off-season despite rumours linking him with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Perhaps there has been no concrete interest so he’s decided to keep his mouth shut.

Inter are also interested in Frank Lampard, according to various media outlets, and have opened negotiations with Chelsea over his transfer to the San Siro. The BBC claims the Milanese club have sent a fax to Stamford Bridge in order to begin the process of reuniting Lampard with Jose Mourinho. Reports on Monday suggested that the opening offer from Inter was a measly £6.5m, although they are willing to pay up to £9m. Lampard has one year remaining on his current contract.

The Guardian writes that Inter’s technical director, Marco Branca, has indicated that Lampard would be offered a four-year deal worth about £130,000 a week, and that they are keen to conclude the transfer before July 14th, when Inter return for their own pre-season.

I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced Lampard will move to Serie A, I’m just not sure whether it’ll happen before the new season kicks off or next summer. Current rules permit him to sign a pre-contract agreement with any club in January, so he could stay for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s first season and join Mourinho next year. Let’s hope I’m wrong and he signs a new deal soon.

Lampard’s midfield partner Michael Ballack also has just the one year remaining on his current contract and yesterday told German newspaper Bild that he is in no rush to extend it. The option to do so is there but Ballack added: “We will just wait and see what happens.” I don’t like the sound of that.

A player who became a favourite of mine in the space of just two games at Euro 2008, Zenit St Petersburg’s Andrei Arshavin, could be staying with the Russian champions after all. Yesterday, Zenit confirmed that they had ended negotiations with Barcelona after the Spanish club failed to improve their initial £12m bid. The statement also said that they have not received any offers for Arshavin from any other clubs.

Which is news to Arshavin’s agent, who spent most of last week telling Russian media that negotiations were ongoing with Chelsea and that Arsenal are also interested in his client, probably in an effort to get Barcelona to up their offer – Zenit coach Dick Advocaat wants a fee of between £20m to £25m. Earlier, a Zenit spokesperson said that Arshavin’s heart was set on a move to the Nou Camp.

I can’t see Arsenal paying that amount for a 27 year-old and if reports are to be believed Scolari isn’t interested in Arshavin, and Roman Abramovich is unlikely to force a player on Chelsea’s new manager at this early stage, which is a shame because I would love to see him at the Bridge before he gets too old. Barcelona will likely table an improved offer and we’ll sign him in about three years’ time, once the Catalan club’s had the best of him. What a cynic.

Scolari will face the media for the first time later today and reports say that he intends to conduct the press conference in English. It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about both Lampard and Drogba, as he is almost certain to be quizzed over their futures. Before this Chelsea TV will have a world exclusive interview with Scolari from 12 p.m.

And to round up this latest batch of transfer rumours, Claude Makelele is said to be mulling over a two year contract offer from Paris Saint-Germain, while Steve Sidwell is being linked with a move to Aston Villa as a replacement for Gareth Barry, who is hoping to sign for Liverpool just as soon as Rafael Benitez persuades his American benefactors to cough up the £18m (£18m!) Villa have asked for. And Branislav Ivanovic could be loaned to Juventus despite not playing for the first team since his arrival in January.