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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Who's coming to England?
England's top clubs, headed by cash-rich Chelsea, are gearing up for a summer spending frenzy.

Even Spanish giants Barcelona have admitted English clubs have an advantage over their European rivals because of the higher wages they can offer prospective players.

That trend is typified by Auxerre's Djibril Cisse's switch to Liverpool, with Manchester United set to complete the signing of Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze from Paris St Germain.

Middlesbrough have also confirmed they are chasing former Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert.

BBC Sport talked to a number of European-based agents as to who else might be on their way to the Premiership this summer.


Roberto Ayala of Valencia
Roberto Ayala
Defender
Age: 31
Cost: 15m

Along with fellow Argentine Walter Samuel, Ayala is one of the best central defenders in the world.

Ruthless in the tackle and commanding in the air, Ayala is a defender who takes no prisoners.

He has been the bedrock of coach Rafael Benitez's defence as Valencia claimed the Primera Liga title and the Uefa Cup.

Chelsea bid for Ayala during the January transfer window and are expected to try again to sign the Argentine during the summer.

Previous clubs: AC Milan, Naples, River Plate.


Didier Drogba of Marseille
Didier Drogba
Striker
Age: 26
Cost: 23m

Drogba has been absolutely sensational this season, scoring 32 goals overall for Marseille this season.

That remarkable goal-scoring recored saw him named player of the year in the French first division.

Drogba has adapted seamlessly to life in the Marseille melting pot in his first season, but he was just as impressive for lowly Guingamp the previous campaign, scoring 17 goals.

Both Chelsea and Juventus are chasing the Ivory Coast international, though Marseille have insisted he is not for sale.

However a bid of 23m could prise him away from the Stade Velodrome.

Previous clubs: Le Mans, En Avant Guingamp.


Eric Abidal of Lille
Eric Abidal
Defender
Age: 24
Cost: 5m

Dubbed "the new Lillian Thuram", Abidal has been the most impressive defender this season in the French first division.

Manchester United have been tracking the defender, who can play either at centre-back or left-back, as have both Milan clubs.

However that trio could be beaten to Abidal's signature by French champions Lyon, the city where Abidal was born.

Previous clubs: Monaco.


Jerome Rothen of Monaco
Jerome Rothen
Midfielder
Age: 26
Cost: 5m

The French international was one of the main reasons why Monaco reached the European Cup final.

All left foot, but what a left foot.

Hugely industrious in patrolling the left-hand side of the pitch, Rothen will travel with France to Euro 2004 this summer.

Previous clubs: Troyes


Fernando Morientes of Monaco
Fernando Morientes
Striker
Age: 28
Cost: 8m

Monaco's on-loan striker Morientes claims that a deal to join an unnamed club this summer is "90% done".

Morientes is believed to have agreed a move to Chelsea, although Arsenal are also rumoured to have made 17m bid.

Having been cold-shouldered by Real Madrid last summer, Morientes moved to Monaco and the Spanish international striker took his revenge by dumping his old club out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.

The Spanish international ended the season as the competition's top scorer.

Probably the best header of the ball in Europe.

Previous clubs: Albacete, Real Zaragoza, Real Madrid.


Ricardo Carvalho of Porto
Ricardo Carvalho
Defender
Age: 26
Cost: 7m

One of the stars of Porto's European Cup triumph over Monaco, Carvalho has been superb for Jose Mourinho's side throughout this season.

Quick, good in the air, and with superb technique, comparisons have been made between Carvalho and the legendary Italian defender Franco Baresi.

Carvalho is also a key figure for the Portuguese national team and is likely to be one of the stars of Euro 2004.

The defender is expected to join Chelsea, once Mourinho is installed as manager.


Paulo Ferreira of Porto
Paulo Ferreira
Defender
Age: 25
Cost: 7m

Ferreira has enjoyed a superb season with Porto and it was his cross that led to the Portuguese's side first goal in the win over Monaco in the European Cup final.

Superb going forward, Ferreira is equally comfortable with his defensive duties and during the final he marked Rothen out of the game.

Tipped to join Mourinho's Portuguese revolution at Chelsea.

Previous clubs: Setubal


Deco of Porto
Deco
Midfielder
Age: 26
Cost: 7m

Over the last two-years Porto's playmaker Deco has established himself as one of the continent's top players and was a key figure in their Uefa Cup and European Cup triumphs over the last two seasons.

He scored in both those games, but it is his ability to pick out the killer pass that sets Deco apart from Europe's other top attacking midfielders.

Brazilian-born but resident in Portugal since he was 17, Deco became a Portuguese citizen at coach Felipe Scolari's request and scored on his debut against Brazil.

The midfielder has said he wants to move to Chelsea, but BBC Sport understands he is not one of the players Mourinho wants to bring to Stamford Bridge.

Previous clubs: Benfica, Salgueiros.


Samuel Eto'o of Real Mallorca
Samuel Eto'o
Striker
Age: 23
Cost 15m

Groomed by Cameroon's acclaimed Kadji Sport Academy, Eto'o is still half-owned by Real Madrid.

The newly-crowned African Footballer of the Year, who allies pace with a cool head in front of goal, scored 17 times in the Primera Liga last season.

Eto'o has made no secret of the fact he would love to return to Real, where he was deemed surplus to requirements in January 2000, having played just 17 games in three years.

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are reportedly interested, though BBC Sport understands Eto'o is a Newcastle target.

Previous clubs: Real Madrid, Leganes (loan).


Philippe Mexes of Auxerre
Philippe Mexes
Defender
Age: 22
Cost: 8m

Roma are keen on the Auxerre defender, whose main priority is to join a club playing in the Champions League, though Liverpool have also been linked with Mexes.

Auxerre coach Guy Roux has insisted Mexes will stay with the Ligue 1 club next season, but the defender's agent believes this a negotiating tactic to bump up the French international's price.

"Roux would prefer Mexes to move to an English club, because Premiership teams do not have the financial problems of Italian sides," Mexes' agent Olivier Jouanneaux told BBC Sport in April.

"But above all what Roux wants to do is to create competition between clubs to increase the transfer fee."





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