Willian joins Chelsea as Bale switch moves closer

Willian is the first high-profile star to leave Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.

Story highlights

  • Brazilian midfielder Willian joins Chelsea in a deal reported to be worth $46.5m
  • The 25-year-old had seemed destined for a switch to Tottenham Hotspur
  • Roma announce Erik Lamela is on his way to Tottenham for $39.9 million
  • Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid edges closer admits Andre Villas-Boas

At last it appears the pieces in soccer's latest transfer window jigsaw are slowly falling into place.

A pair of big-money moves involving English Premier League clubs on Wednesday could spark a frenzy of activity as Europe's leading clubs aim to finish their business before Tuesday's deadline.

London-based club Tottenham Hotspur are at the coalface as things stand, securing a $40 million deal shortly after missing out on another to rivals Chelsea.

All this with the potential world record transfer of their star player Gareth Bale to Spanish giants Real Madrid simmering in the background -- a move that manager Andre Villas-Boas admits is close.

Read: Fenerbahce's two-year European ban upheld

But while the two English clubs are splashing out lavish sums on new players, the teams they are buying from are resigned to having to offload their big names in a bid to balance the books.

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Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala announced their intention to sell a swathe of their stars earlier this month, alerting both Chelsea and Tottenham to the availability of Brazilian midfielder Willian.

The 25-year-old appeared to be set for a move to Tottenham, but Chelsea swooped in to hijack the deal and on Wednesday announced it had been completed, for a fee reported to be $46.5 million.

It means manager Jose Mourinho has ten midfielders at his disposal and raises the prospect that Spanish playmaker Juan Mata, who hasn't featured in Chelsea's first two games of the season, might be sold.

Willian told Chelsea's official website: "Chelsea are one of the best clubs in the world, and now I'm going to play for one of the best managers in the world.

"It's been my dream to come to play here. Chelsea was always my first choice.

"Finally it's become a reality, and when the offer came I never gave a thought to anybody else, I said to myself that I would run here, and I'm happy to be here now."

Chelsea are still in the market for Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney, who played for the English champions against Chelsea in their goalless draw on Monday night.

The striker was afforded a fine reception by the home supporters, and took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to thank them for their support, the biggest hint yet that he might opt to stay at Old Trafford.

Tottenham's frustration at missing out on Willian might have been eased by a new signing of their own, as Italian club AS Roma announced midfielder Erik Lamela was set to join them for a fee of $39.9 million.

At the same time the club confirmed the signing of Adam Ljajic from fellow Serie A side Fiorentina for $14.5 million, who is expected to fill the gap left by Lamela, from Argentina.

Lamela's acquisition means Tottenham have broken their transfer record three times in the close season, after the arrivals of Paulinho from Corinthians and Roberto Soldado from Valencia.

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They have also signed Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue and Belgian winger Nacer Chadli as Villas-Boas overhauls his squad in the face of Bale's departure.

The Welshman's move to Real appears to be moving closer given Tottenham's transfer outlay, Villas-Boas telling a news conference on Wednesday it could happen "very soon."

But the Portuguese also registered his disappointment that Bale has missed several training sessions as the saga unfolded.

"He is involved in a big transfer move to Real Madrid and in the end if it happens, we wish him all the best, but the fact that he hasn't turned up is not the correct behavior," Villas-Boas told reporters.

"That is the position they chose to take and it's up to the club to decide if it's a fineable offense."

As for how quickly Bale's switch to Spain could be concluded Villas-Boas added: "It could happen very, very soon.

"Will he be in tomorrow? I don't know. I'm not really in control of the situation I've left it up to the club to decide what they want to do.

"It's up to Gareth (whether he wants to come back again). He has a good relationship with everybody and he has saluted the players the other day, myself included."

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