Chelsea are near to completing the signing of Brazilian World Cup midfielder Ramires for a figure of around £18million.
The 23-year-old is reportedly in London today to finalise the deal and undergo a medical at the 13/8 Premier League favourite’s base ahead of the switch from Portuguese side Benfica.
Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti had earmarked the dynamic player as a key target even before the former Corinthians man’s impressive displays in South Africa, and doubtless now sees the tireless runner as a versatile replacement for departed Michael Ballack, Juliano Beletti and Joe Cole.
The sticking point of the transfer has been the fact that a 50 per cent stake in Ramires, full name Ramires Santos do Nascimento, was owned by an investment company headed by the infamous Kia Joorabchian – a practice outlawed by the Premier League after the Carlos Tevez affair.
However, that has been smoothed over, meaning Chelsea can welcome into their squad a player whose suspension for Brazil’s quarter-final with Holland was judged as a reason for the Samba stars’ exit.
Nicknamed the Blue Kenyan for his endurance and the colour of his first club’s kit, Ramires is the kind of battle-hardened box-to-box midfielder Chelsea missed in the Champions League last season, after Michael Essien’s injury.
Ancelotti’s team are 6/1 third-favourites to win that competition for the first time in their history this year.
Ramires’s arrival will soothe an element of unease that had built up around the Stamford Bridge side after friendly losses to Ajax (3-1) and Eintracht Frankfurt (2-1).
With Petr Cech injured, stand-in goalkeepers Ross Turnbull and Hilario both looked unconvincing in the matches, while Didier Drogba and Alex are also injured and Chelsea’s World Cup players are short of match fitness.
With their Premier League opener against Evens relegation candidates West Bromwich Albion just 11 days away (14/1 for a 1-1 draw), Ricardo Carvalho has spoken of the need to start improving quickly.
“For the team it is time to get results. We are getting fit, now we need to play better,” the defender said.
Chelsea face Hamburg in Germany on Wednesday at 5pm, before the Double winners take on Manchester United in the Community Shield on Sunday.