Chelsea to sign Cristian Manea

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Chelsea have struck a deal to sign Romanian wonderkid Cristian Manea from Viitorul Constanta when the transfer window re-opens in January. The Blues have won the race for the 17-year-old defender ahead of a host of top European clubs, having agreed a £2.3 million fee.

This is according to Romanian website Dolce Sport - and brought to our attention by the Daily Star - who claim that Chelsea will send the teenager out on loan to either Dutch partner club Vitesse or Spanish side Mallorca for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign.

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Who is Manea?

Manea, who turned 17 last month, became Romania's youngest ever international after making his debut against Albania back in May.

A right-back by trade, Manea has been identified by Mourinho as a potential first-team star - although it could be several years before he is ready to challenge for a starting spot at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho is determined to assemble a young squad capable of challenging for domestic and European honours for the next ten years, and starting the rebuilding process by offloading several of the club's veterans this summer including Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

Competition for places at Chelsea

That Manea is prepared to join Chelsea suggests both he and his representatives are confident that he possesses the required talent to force his way into the Blues' first-team over the next few years.

Branislav Ivanovic currently has the right-back spot nailed down at Stamford Bridge - behind Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas the Serbia international has arguably been Chelsea's most impressive player so far this season - while Cesar Azpilicueta is next in line for that position.

Chelsea also have Brazilian right-back Wallace on their books, having signed the 20-year-old from Fluminense in December 2012. The Brazil Under-20 international is currently on loan at Vitesse, which indicates that Manea might be more likely to join Mallorca.

Questions over Chelsea's use of the loan system

Joining Chelsea, although lucrative, is a risk for any talented young footballer. The Blues currently have 26 players out on loan at various clubs - and the likelihood is that very few of them will make a single first-team appearance for the west London outfit.

This is because Chelsea have a track record of signing big-money players - certainly since the arrival of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003 - rather than promoting youngsters through from the club's academy.

Chelsea spent £92.5 million on six players this summer, including Costa and Fabregas, and it's not beyond the realms of possibly that Mourinho will opt to sign another top-level right back - rather than promoting Manea or Wallace - once he decides to replace Ivanovic.

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