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Chelsea lead race to sign Pastore

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini claims Premier League duo Chelsea and Manchester City, plus Serie A side Roma, are battling it out to sign Javier Pastore.

• Blues agree Romeu fee
• Drogba set for new Blues deal

Zamparini has imposed a Tuesday deadline for any deal to be done for Pastore and the Italian media claim Chelsea are favourites to land the €50 million playmaker.

Pastore, 22, has already been the subject of a rejected €45 million bid from "a major European side" and Zamparini believes there are now just three clubs in the running to sign the Argentina international.

"I cannot say who has the advantage between Chelsea, Manchester City or Roma. I can only underline that I'm interested in cash deals," Zamparini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We are at the final stages and will evaluate the offers on Tuesday. When we see which the real proposals are, then we can go forward."

Any move for him, or a renewed bid for Tottenham's Luka Modric, would appear to have the blessing of Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay.

"From our activity in the marketplace in the past, if the coach feels there is a player available that can strengthen our team then we almost definitely go into the marketplace," the Blues chief said.

Like Barcelona midfielder Oriol Romeu, for whom Chelsea have agreed a £5 million fee, Pastore would help fill the void left by Michael Essien, who was recently ruled out for six months with a serious knee injury.

Despite Chelsea's apparent attempts to bolster their midfield, manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted they do not need to compete with Manchester United's spending this summer.

"It's not a case of spending straight away when we don't need to do that,'' he was quoted as saying in several national newspapers. "We hope it will prove to be the successful approach.

"United have decided to sign players after losing some to retirement and they have reinforced those sectors. We will decide what sectors we need to reinforce in our own team.''

He added of last season: "Chelsea came back with an extremely good recovery. This club had an opportunity to win the title and that shows how competitive we can be.''

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