Zokora race to develop
By Patrick Haond
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Spurs are chasing Didier Zokora but Chelsea could decide to make a late bid.
Tottenham are reportedly closing in on the signing of Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora, despite rival interest from big-spending Chelsea.
The St Etienne star is understood to be keen to head to London but Les Verts are demanding a massive é¼15 million (£10.28 million) for his services, partly on the back of his impressive showings in the World Cup finals.
The defensive midfield man, nicknamed 'The Maestro', is under contract until 2009 but is expected to be heading for The Premiership this summer.
French sources claim Spurs attempted to negotiate with St Etienne again on Tuesday night but Chelsea are also keeping a watching brief.
Blues scout Piet de Visser told Spanish newspaper Sport that he has been following the African ace for some time.
"We have been following him for years," de Visser is quoted as saying. "I see him as a new Claude Makelele. Offensively, he is better than the Frenchman."
De Visser, who is friends with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and joined the Premiership champions in 2005, revealed that he is watching several stars in Germany.
The names on his short-list are Spain midfielder Xavi, Brazil ace Kaka, Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Argentina schemer Juan Roman Riquelme.
"I look for jewels that others have not managed to unearth," he commented after explaining what he will include in his reports on the players, although there is no suggestion that Chelsea will bid for the stars during the close season.