Chelsea Club Focus – Blues leading race for England centre-back Cahill

With the January transfer window almost upon us, one of the most drawn out transfer rumours of the year seems to have potentially reached a conclusion with Chelsea looking firm favourites to sign Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill.

Cahill has become the subject of intense speculation over the last 12 months or so, being linked to various clubs but most notably Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. The Gunners’ interest seems to have cooled with the summer signing of Per Mertesacker and the return from injury of Belgian lynchpin Thomas Vermaelen.

Tottenham still remain contenders in the race for Cahill’s signature but it is Chelsea who are labelled as the front runners in this off field duel. This could be down to Villas-Boas’ comments at a press conference in the week, stating an interest in the England centre-back. With managers often reluctant to comment on transfer speculation it was a signal of intent from the Portuguese manager to make public his admiration of Cahill’s ability: “We’re aware of Gary’s contractual situation. His talent is never in question. He is an interesting player for the club.

Villas-Boas however remained coy with announcing whether the club will attempt to buy Cahill or not: “We’ll have to let the market open and make the wisest of decisions, whether it be on Alex, Cahill or other central defenders who are available.” With Brazilian defender Alex reportedly unhappy at Stamford Bridge and set to leave in the near future and John Terry facing criminal prosecution for his alleged racist comments in a match at Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea will need strength in depth to compete on all fronts.

It is well documented that Cahill’s contract is due to run out in the summer, so for Bolton it is vital that they can cash in on the star player whilst they still can, but with the club currently embroiled in a relegation battle selling their prized asset represents a trade-off of interests.

Allowing Chelsea to spend a reported figure of around £7m on Cahill will mean a fee would be received as opposed to him walking out for free in the summer, and the income will help towards the club’s reported financial difficulties. However with the club fighting for Premier League survival losing Cahill would be a huge blow in their attempts to beat the drop which might result in an even bigger loss of revenue as a result of potential relegation.

Having forced his way into the England setup, Cahill is making a name for himself on the back of an impressive 2010-11 season in the top flight where he scored three times and contributed to the Trotters reaching an FA Cup semi-final as well as climbing up to sixth place in the league, only for their season to fall away disappointingly at the last.

The former Aston Villa defender is unlikely to reject a move to a club with a greater chance of claiming silverware as well as playing in European competition to stay at the Reebok Stadium, so it remains a question of whether Chelsea will transform their interest into an offer for Cahill’s services because all parties, in one way or another, are willing to do business.

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