Tottenham’s efforts to sign Anzhi Makhachkala star Willian look set to be in vain after a phone call to the Russian club from Roman Abramovich put Chelsea in the driving seat for the player’s scrawl.
Spurs were thought to be on the verge of a £30m deal for the Brazilian before Abramovich got involved and the player had passed a medical at White Hart Lane, but the Stamford Bridge side are prepared to gazump their London rivals by bidding an extra £2m.
The Russian tycoon has long considered himself the club’s de facto chief scout, although his record at picking players leaves something to be desired.
Andriy Shevchenko was expected to significantly add to Chelsea’s attacking threat following his £30m arrival from AC Milan in 2006, with the Ukrainian’s record of 127 goals in 208 Serie A games catching the oligarch’s eye.
However, after just nine goals in 47 league appearances over two seasons in west London, Shevchenko was sent back from whence he came having been blamed for Jose Mourinho’s departure from the club.
Fernando Torres is also turning out to be an expensive mistake following his £50m signing in January 2011, another move that was largely attributed to Abramovich.
During his three and a half seasons at Liverpool, Torres scored an incredible 65 goals in 102 Premier League games, but has failed to replicate anything like that form at Chelsea, with just 15 league goals in 83 games over a similar period of time.
Stamford Bridge punters have already had a taste of what Willian can serve up to a Premier League defence, as the winger equalised twice for former club Shakhtar Donetsk in Chelsea’s 3-2 Champions League win over the Ukrainian side in November.
The Brazilian scored four goals in six Champions League games for Shakhtar last year and has laid-on three assists in his four Russian League appearances for Anzhi this season.
Chelsea are 21/10 second-favourites to win the league and will be delighted to have stolen a march on serious title rivals Spurs by snatching a player from under the Lilywhites’ nose.