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EPL's Chelsea and United plot for next season
May 21st, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  england, germany


As the FA Cup final dropped the curtain on the 2006-07 season for Chelsea and Manchester United, they began to consider plans for the 2007-08 season.

The importance of Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, scorer of the Wembley final's only goal, and Nigerian John Obi Mikel, who had a huge game in midfield, to Chelsea in the final underscored its need to add reinforcements. Drogba, Mikel, Ivorian Salomon Kalou and Michael Essien should be unavailable for three weeks next winter when they compete at the 2008 African Nations Cup in Essien's Ghana.

During his team's injury-marred campaign, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho complained that he wasn't given the reinforcements he needed this winter to overtake Manchester United in the English Premier League race.

Mourinho is looking to sign three new players -- a defender, midfielder and a striker -- for the coming season. In addition, he wants to tie up captain John Terry (the subject of rumors he wants to leave) and midfielder Frank Lampard (able to move to the club of his wishes -- Barcelona? -- for a set fee of $16 million under FIFA's transfer guidelines) to long-term contracts.

To pay for Chelsea's new players, it is expected to sell three other players, but they will not include Andriy Shevchenko or Michael Ballack, chief executive Peter Kenyon told BBC Radio on Sunday.

Shevchenko has been rumored to be headed back to AC Milan. Ballack also failed to live up to expectations in the EPL. Both didn't play in the FA Cup on Saturday because of injuries.

Meanwhile, Manchester United is reported to have reached a transfer agreement with Bayern Munich for Canadian-born England midfielder Owen Hargreaves, Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said on Sunday.

"Owen is leaving," Beckenbauer told the DSF television network. "That was the player's wish. It's a good match and it's also a good deal financially."

Bayern will reportedly get 25 million euros ($33.75 million) for Hargreaves -- a figure Beckenbauer said was "in the range"and would be the highest fee ever for a Bundesliga player.

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