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By ESPN Staff
Jan 23, 2007

Chelsea eyes American Onyewu to shore up defense

LONDON -- Oguchi Onyewu could be heading to Chelsea.

The two-time defending Premier League champions are looking to sign the 24-year-old from Olney, Md., during the January transfer window. Onyewu, a member of last year's U.S. World Cup team, has been with Belgium's Standard Liege since the 2004-5 season, and British media reported Monday that the 6-foot-4 defender could cost Chelsea $3.95 million.

"There is truth in regard to Chelsea," said his agent, Will Sherling.

Chelsea, in second place and six points behind Manchester United, has struggled defensively in recent games. French champion Lyon also has been in discussions with Onyewu, who recently turned down an offer from Fulham.

"[Lyon] want to sign the player. They want to do the deal, but they want him to stay at Liege until the end of the summer," Sherling said.

Onyewu had been set to join fellow Americans Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey at Fulham earlier this month in a $1.96 million transfer.

"We had a good offer from Fulham for him, and we agreed with Liege for a fee, but the player didn't agree to go," Sherling said.

Whether Onyewu joins Chelsea may depend on the amount of playing time he can expect. He turned down a move to Real Madrid earlier this season.

"When Madrid made a bid for him, it was not necessarily with him coming as a first-choice defender," Sherling said. "I don't know if that's the case with Chelsea. The best club for him is one that will develop his profile as a player. He doesn't need to get tangled up in which club is bigger than the next."

Onyewu also rejected a move to Middlesbrough in September. He scored one goal in 17 international appearances for the United States and played in all three U.S. World Cup games last year.