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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ashley Cole is the next target

Coach Jose Mourinho claims to have learnt his lesson from last season's 'tapping-up' row and vows that his bid to sign Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole will be entirely above board this time round.

"Arsenal know we are interested. We know that the player belongs to Arsenal. We know they have the power to decide," the Portuguese coach expressed.

"Everything is absolutely clear. I think if people made mistakes in the past year, they are not making them this season."

In fact, Mourinho, Cole and Chelsea were all fined by the FA after meeting without Arsenal's knowledge in a London restaurant in January 2005.

With Cole apparently burning any bridges with his present employers by publishing damning criticism of the north London side in an upcoming book, Chelsea FC may feel that such skulduggery is no longer needed.

However, with the deadline for registering players for the Champions League fast approaching and Asier Del Horno already sold to Valencia, the Blues will be keen to reach an agreement with Arsenal as soon as possible.

The Gunners' value Ashley Cole at over £20 million, and with Gael Clichy as a ready replacement and the bills on their new stadium paid for, they are in a position to force Roman Abramovich to match it.

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