Inter lead chase for Carvalho and Deco

INTER MILAN are at the front of the queue to sign Chelsea duo Ricardo Carvalho and Deco but a number of Europe’s leading clubs are monitoring the situation.

The Italian club’s president Massimo Moratti said manager and former Stamford Bridge boss Jose Mourinho has instructed him to sign the pair.

And while Moratti is feeling confident after preliminary discussions with Chelsea, the transfers are far from a done deals, especially with several other clubs having expressed interest.

“Mourinho has asked us for Carvalho and Deco and we are working towards making him happy,” said Moratti. “Our wish is to sign both players and I have seen that the players’ intention is to join us. We still haven’t reached an agreement with Chelsea but I think we will in a short time.”

Mourinho is familiar with centre-back Carvalho and midfielder Deco having coached both players at Porto, while Mourinho also coached Carvalho during his time in London.

“We are interested in Carvalho primarily for the Champions League,” said Moratti. “He has the right experience, he is calm under pressure and brings experience in defence. Our coach has guaranteed quality and I have every intention to make him happy.”

Carvalho admitted he is aware of Inter’s interest, but did not rule out staying at Stamford Bridge.

The Portuguese defender admitted he was open to a move following his frustrations this year, but he stepped back a little by saying he can still be happy at Chelsea.

“This year it hasn’t gone well at Chelsea because I was injured,” he said. “But prior to that, I had enjoyed four fantastic seasons and you don’t forget that. Deco’s situation and mine are very different.”

Deco joined Chelsea from Barcelona last summer but the 31-year-old also suffered injuries, making just 22 league appearances this campaign.

“Deco will have two tasks: to do well immediately and to help Brazilian teenager Philippe Coutinho mature as a player,” said Moratti. “Coutinho will arrive next season from Vasco de Gama and plays in the same role as Deco.”

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce returns from his holiday in Portugal this week and will be busy as he looks to offload players from their large squad and add new blood.

Robbie Keane and Darren Bent are both rumoured to be the former Wigan and Birmingham manager’s first targets but Ireland striker Anthony Stokes looks like being the first of three Irishmen to leave the Stadium of Light, with Roy O’Donovan and Daryl Murphy likely to move on before the season starts.

Roy Keane paid £2m for Stokes in January 2007 but the Dubliner made just 34 appearances and had two unimpressive loan periods in the Championship with Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.

Hibernian are looking to buy the 20-year-old striker but Bruce will have to accept a huge loss on the Irish international.

Former Falkirk boss John Hughes, who got the best out of Stokes three years ago, is now Hibernian boss and would love to add the player to his ranks.

Meanwhile, German club Stuttgart are ready to offer Roman Pavlyuchenko an escape route from Tottenham.

Pavlyuchenko is one of the strikers Stuttgart are considering, according to their director of sport Horst Heldt, as a replacement for Mario Gomez after the Germany forward joined Bayern Munich.

“Pavyluchenko is an interesting player and we have discussed his name internally,” said Heldt.

And manager Roberto Martinez’s move from Swansea to Wigan on a three-year contract was completed last night as the clubs agreed a compensation package for the Spaniard’s backroom staff.

The clubs had already agreed a fee of £2m for Martinez’s services but have now negotiated a figure for assistant manager Graeme Jones, chief scout Kevin Reeves, goalkeeping coach Inaki Bergara and masseur Oscar Brau.

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