Chelsea could be set to battle Arsenal for the signature of Manchester United star Wayne Rooney this summer after new Blues boss Jose Mourinho revealed his admiration for the unsettled striker.
Speaking at a press conference to mark his second coming at Stamford Bridge, the former Real Madrid manager drew comparisons between himself and the England hitman, suggesting that they are at similar stages in their respective careers.
Mourinho also hinted that Rooney needs to find a club where he can be “happy”, prompting the bwin bookmakers to trim Chelsea’s odds of clinching what would be a sensational coup from 7/1 to 6/1.
“Rooney is at a fantastic age. He has maturity, big experience, and he’s still young,” said Mourinho.
“It’s up to him what he wants, what makes him happy. He’s a bit like me: he doesn’t need one more pound on his contract. One more cup won’t make a difference.
“Be happy. Where will he find more happiness to have the ambition and drive him? I like him as a boy. I wish him well and hope he is happy.”
While “stability” was the buzz-word at Mourinho’s unveiling, the Portuguese is still believed to be keen to bolster his attacking options with a big-ticket signing such as Rooney.
Edinson Cavani has been strongly linked with a £50 million switch from Napoli, while Zenit front man Hulk and Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic are also rumoured to be targets.
Rooney reportedly handed in a transfer request in the closing weeks of the campaign and is yet to meet with new United boss David Moyes for talks about his future.
The 27-year-old has become increasingly frustrated by being played out of position and is thought to be willing to consider a new challenge after a trophy-laden nine-year stint at Old Trafford.
He has also emerged as a serious target for newly-flush Arsenal, who could satisfy Rooney’s desire for a central striking role as they look to build a squad that can push them back into the Premier League title picture next term.
The Gunners are currently 5/1 joint-favourites alongside European champions Bayern Munich to invest a sizeable chunk of their rumoured £70 million war chest on the former Everton forward this summer.
Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain have made no secret of their interest in pairing Rooney with Zlatan Ibrahimovic – skipper Thiago Silva has also urged the club to sign him – and the French giants are a 7/1 chance to seal the deal before September 1st, 2013.
Manchester City, who famously tried to snatch Rooney from their cross-city rivals in 2010, are next in the betting at 14/1, with Real Madrid at 16/1, AC Milan and Newcastle United at 40/1, and Juventus and Monaco at 50/1.