Chelsea set Arsenal deadline
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The Blues new billionaire sugar daddy wants the Gunners skipper in The Blues' line-up for their opening Champions League qualifier but is said to be unwilling to do business if no deal is done before hand.
The West London side are setting the pace in the summer spending spree, having already captured Glen Johnson from West Ham United for £6 million and Geremi from Real Madrid for £6.9 million.
They are also in hot pursuit of Blackburn Rovers winger Damien Duff, while a £7 million deal for Southampton full back Wayne Bridge is also on the cards.
Abramovich is said to be keen to test the water with Arsenal and the wealthy Russian has never hidden his admiration for Vieira or team mate Thierry Henry, and Arsenal know their midfield enforcer could walk away from the club for nothing in 12 months time when his contract expires.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has consistently stressed his top stars are not for sale, and would be loathed to lose his Highbury colossus.
"Our best players are not for sale," Wenger said adamantly. "At the moment Patrick hasn't signed but we're positive that he will."
With spiralling stadium costs and with no contract extension yet to be agreed with the player, Wenger knows Abramovich's arrival at Stamford Bridge could convince the influential French captain that there is a side in London with the financial clout to sign the world's best players and compete for the game's top prizes.