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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Why can't Chelsea sign a striker?
By Andrew McKenzie and Dan Warren

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
It's very difficult for Chelsea to sign players as the team is already good and great clubs want to keep their best players
Jose Mourinho
Despite the millions of pounds at Chelsea's disposal, the Blues are yet to land the world-class striker manager Jose Mourinho craves.

And, amid rumours they are now trying to bring want-away forward Hernan Crespo back from his loan at AC Milan, it appears they are ready to admit defeat.

Roman Abramovich's millions got Chelsea the best manager money can buy.

It got them Manchester United's chief executive, Tottenham's sporting director and a squad full of star players - and some would argue it got them the Premiership title.

Yet despite more than 200m being spent on new talent, the Stamford Bridge faithful await the arrival of a genuine striking star.

It is not for want of trying.

Look at the six that got away. Inter Milan's Adriano, Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o, Arsenal's Thierry Henry, AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko, Juventus' David Trezeguet and Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres have all been linked with a move to Chelsea - but all are still with their clubs.

If the speculation is to be believed, the Blues' combined bids for the six players totals a gargantuan 335m.

Clearly this is not a case of Chelsea undervaluing the players. So why are they not willing to come?

THE SIX THAT GOT AWAY
Adriano - Inter Milan
Inter stubbornly refusing to let their prize asset go
S Eto'o - Barcelona
Mourinho's bust-up didn't help - nor did English weather
T Henry - Arsenal
Poor relations with Gunners after Ashley Cole affair
A Shevchenko - AC Milan
Milan legend - even a bid of 60m+ not enough to lure him
F Torres - Atletico Madrid
Remains loyal to his club - and his club are loyal to him
D Trezeguet - Juventus
Quite simply not for sale, say the Italians
Spanish football journalist Andy Mitten highlighted some of the reasons behind the refusal of Eto'o to move.

"I know Eto'o, I've interviewed him several times this year," he told BBC Sport.

"He loves living in Barcelona, as does his wife. It's a wonderful city to live in. His first season in Barcelona has been a huge success.

"He's adored by the public. He's playing in the biggest stadium in Europe, watched by the highest average crowds in Europe and he believes in this 'more than a club' ethic.

"And the weather is better."

Chelsea fans probably felt the sun was always shining on Stamford Bridge last season as they strolled to the Premiership title - but although the side does not lack quality, even ardent fans would admit that someone to lead the front line would be a huge boost.

The Blues' top scorer last season was midfielder Frank Lampard. Eidur Gudjohnsen is not an out-an-out striker, while Didier Drogba failed to fire in his first season at the club.

Mateja Kezman has been sold to Atletico Madrid and Mikael Forssell has left for Birmingham.

Didier Drogba
Indeed, Kezman seems to be bound for Atletico Madrid - but not with Torres moving in the opposition direction.

Mourinho has had no difficulty bringing in Athletic Bilbao left-back Asier del Horno and the Blues are still hopeful of signing Lyon midfielder Michael Essien, although the French club remain adamant their man will not be leaving.

But his search for a striker has so far drawn a blank - and not just because of the weather.

One problem for the Londoners is that the players they are trying to attract are already at big clubs.

It is one thing persuading Arjen Robben to leave PSV Eindhoven or Scott Parker to turn his back on Charlton - another to convince Eto'o to move from Barcelona.

Money has got them so far, but it appears Chelsea still cannot match the pulling power of some of Europe's more established clubs.

The other problem is convincing the clubs to sell their star men.

Mitten adds: "Everyone is waiting for the big centre-forward signing, but I'm not sure it will happen.

"Teams like Juventus and Barcelona are not going to let their star players go to a team who will be their rivals in Europe next year."

A prolific forward can be the difference to winning or losing the Champions League.

That can translate to 45m in the bank, and therefore it makes little sense to cash him in to one of your rivals.

As Mourinho admitted: "It is very difficult for Chelsea to sign players because the team is already good and great clubs want to keep their best players."

Football agent Jeff Weston believes there may be time for Chelsea to get their man.

He said: "Any player would be interested in playing for Chelsea because they are successful at the moment. All any player wants is to be at the top of their profession.

"And there's plenty of time left this summer."




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