Chelsea target £36m 'new Cristiano Ronaldo' despite Manchester United interest

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has his eye on three of South America's premier talents, Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani and James Rodriguez, and could fund moves for all three in January, according to the London Evening Standard.

The Stamford Bridge chief replaced Champions League-winning coach Roberto Di Matteo with former-Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez this week, and could be prepared to back his new man with a huge transfer kitty in the New Year.

Chelsea have been long-term admirers of Atletico Madrid striker Falcao, and the Colombian international as a £44m release clause in his contract.

The Blues lack options up front, with Fernando Torres and Danny Sturridge their only senior forwards, and Falcao is widely regarded to be the best number nine in world football.

But the report suggests Abramovich also likes the look of Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, and Porto sensation James Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has been compared to former-Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, and was reportedly a target for Sir Alex Ferguson's United side, but Chelsea are now thought to be keen to bring the Colombian playmaker to the Premier League.

The young winger has a £36m release clause, and the Blues could be expected to meet that fee if they want sign Rodriguez. The 21-year-old already has eight caps for his country, and Manchester United were thought to be keeping a close eye on him, and were even reportedly considering selling Nani to fund a move for the youngster.

But the spending may not end there. The report claims Cavani has also emerged as a possible target for Chelsea, but the European champions will have to pay at least £48m to prise the Uruguay international away from the Serie 'A' side, according to the report.

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