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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Mutu key to Chelsea hopes
By Andrew McKenzie

Adrian Mutu
Mutu was Parma's top man last year
Chelsea's move for Parma striker Adrian Mutu is unlikely to be the club's last major signing, but it could prove the key to their hopes of challenging for honours this season.

The one position the Blues have struggled to fill since the arrival of new billionaire Russian owner Roman Abromavich is up front.

Arsenal forward Thierry Henry was said to be their number one target, with speculation claiming they were willing to pay 50m for the Frenchman.

Inter Milan star Christian Vieri has been regularly linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, while they were reported to have had a 71.4m bid for Real Madrid's Raul turned down.

After being linked with some of the biggest hitters in the game the 15.8m signing of Mutu could come as something of a disappointment to some Chelsea fans.

But while the Romanian international is a relative unknown in English football, he has emerged as one of the most highly-rated forwards on the continent.

He scored 18 times in Serie A last season for Parma and struck up a lethal combination with Brazilian striker Adriano that produced 33 goals.

After speculation linking him with a move to Lazio and Chelsea, the Italians last month claimed the player was going nowhere and made him their club captain.

But with the player keen on a move and the club looking to lower their wage bill, Parma boss Cesare Prandelli admitted they had no choice but to accept Chelsea's offer.

Mutu began his career as a 17-year-old with Romanian side Arges Dacia Pitesti before making his name with Dinamo Bucharest.

I like Adrian Mutu, who is technically very good and can play off the main striker
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
A ratio of a goal a game during his five months with Dinamo saw him earn his first cap for his country and a move to Inter Milan.

But with the likes of Ronaldo, Vieri and Alvaro Recoba at the San Siro, Mutu found opportunities hard to come by with the Italian giants.

He was sold to Verona in 2001 and in his second season he became the club's leading scorer, but his 12 goals failed to save them from relegation.

Last summer Parma paid 6m for Mutu and he responded with the best season of his career as they finished fifth in Serie A.

Mutu has been compared to Chelsea great Gianfranco Zola, who achieved so much success after making his own move from Parma to London.

Mutu is much more than an out-and-out goalscorer and played on the left as well as up front for Parma last season.

He is also something of a dead ball specialist, with many of his goals coming from free-kicks or from the penalty spot.

With both Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen not enjoying their best seasons last year, much will be expected of the man known as the Romanian bomber.






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