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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 18, 2006

Zambrotta prefers Milan to Chelsea - Agent

Juventus full-back Gianluca Zambrotta will only consider a move to Chelsea if his club fail to reach an agreement with AC Milan, according to his agent.

Chelsea are in race with Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign the World Cup winner and a representative of the Barclays Premiership champions will discuss a move with Juve later this week.

However, it is AC Milan who appear to have the upper hand in the negotiations.

'Zambrotta's wish is to stay in Italy but not at Juventus, and the only club that can afford the transfer and that have shown a keen interest is AC Milan,' Zambrotta's agent Giuseppe Bonetto said.

'Should Juve fail to reach an agreement with AC Milan then Zambrotta will consider the other alternatives.

'An agent representing Chelsea will meet Juventus in the next few days.

'It will be down to Juventus to make the decisions and let us know what the options are once there is something concrete.

'Chelsea are not the only ones interested in Zambrotta as Real Madrid and Barcelona are also keen to sign the player.'

Juve were relegated to Serie B for their part in the match-fixing scandal.

They will also start next season with a 30-point deficit, meaning they are set to spend two seasons outside the top flight.

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has revealed Chelsea are unlikely to be at full strength for the Community Shield as several players will still be recovering from the World Cup.

The Blues face Liverpool in Cardiff on August 13 with Mourinho prepared to rest some of his biggest names as they complete their recovery from Germany.

Williams Gallas and Claude Makelele featured for France in the final while Ricardo Carvalho and Paolo Ferreira contributed to Portugal's passage into the last four.

In contrast, Manchester United have already been able to field a near full strength side for the opening game of their pre-season tour to South Africa, a 4-0 victory over the Orlando Pirates on Saturday.

Mourinho claims Chelsea's rivals will be better prepared for the new campaign and does not expect to have a full squad to select from until late August.

'Manchester United played in South Africa with a first XI, we cannot do this,' Mourinho told Chelsea TV.

'I believe our first part of the season will be quite difficult. For example, when we play the Community Shield, Liverpool have already played Champions League matches and have been training for a month.

'When we play Manchester City in the first game it will be a very similar situation so I think we won't start in the full position.

'We have a lot of quality and I believe everyone will be back fit with a lot of enthusiasm.

'But the reality is we have to play with half the team for our first game in the United States. Some of them will not be ready to play in the Community.

'It's a competition and it's a cup we enjoyed winning last season and of course we want to win this time around as well, but I'll look at it in a different way.'

Chelsea's World Cup stars will return to pre-season training over the next two weeks.

The Blues will travel to the United States for a pre-season training camp and will play the Major League All-Stars on August 5.

Athletic Bilbao have joined the race to sign Chelsea defender Asier Del Horno.

Del Horno had been expected to join Valencia in the next few days but his former club Bilbao have now declared an interest in bringing the 25-year-old back to San Mames.

'We are ready to equal the 7million euros (£4.8million) offer made by Valencia to Chelsea for Asier del Horno,' Bilbao president Fernando Lamikiz told television station Bilbovision.

'Then we would have to analyse the player's salary and negotiate with him.'

Del Horno spoke earlier today about Valencia's interest and he admitted he would relish the opportunity to return to Spain.

'I would love to return to the Primera Liga because it's a competition that I am very familiar with,' he told Valencian newspaper Las Provincias.

'I am very honoured by the interest from Valencia.

'For the time being, though, my club is Chelsea and for that reason I have gone to pre-season training with them.'

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