- Premier League
Chelsea target Aspas to stay in Spain
Valencia look to have stolen a decisive march on Premier League sides Chelsea, Swansea City and Reading in the race to sign highly-rated Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas.
Aspas, 25, has impressed with eight goals in 19 appearances in his first Primera Division season, and has been heavily linked with a move to England in recent weeks.
Reports last weekend in the UK suggested that Chelsea were poised to pay the €10 million release clause and bring Rafael Benitez's countryman to Stamford Bridge during the current transfer window.
However, Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reported on Tuesday that Valencia had already informed Celta of their intention to pay the release clause, while a five-year contract with the player had also been agreed. This would appear to fit with comments from Aspas himself last week, when he suggested that he would stay at Celta until next summer and maybe move then.
"I have read a lot of things saying I was going to go in the winter market, which are not true," Aspas said before last week's Copa del Rey game at Real Madrid. "I have said various times that I will be here until June 30 at least. After that we will see what is best for the club and for me."
When asked about the speculation on Tuesday, Celta boss Paco Herrera said he expected the player to stay and help his side avoid relegation this season, although the club would be powerless to stop him leaving if he wished to and a club met the release clause.
"He is our reference in attack," Herrera said. "Without him we would have a lot of difficulties to stay up, because he is our goalscorer. I am very sure that our president will not let Iago leave unless someone pays his release clause. If that happens, we can do nothing about it."
Heavily indebted Valencia have not spent big on players in recent seasons, but AS reported last week that club president Manuel Llorente had been in London to meet third-party investment groups with the aim of raising the money required to sign Aspas.