Andre Villas-Boas
UEFA Champions League: Chelsea v Bayer Leverkusen Reuters

Chelsea face fellow Premier League side Aston Villa in the Barclays Asia Cup final on Saturday, but by then, they'll know whether they have been successful in their pursuit of Palermo star Javier Pastore.

After Palermo confirmed that Chelsea were in a two-horse race to sign the 22-year-old, along with Paris Saint Germain, reports on Thursday suggested that the French side had beaten Chelsea to the Argentine.

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini denied those reports and stated that the player's agent was to meet Chelsea while confirming that both clubs had bid figures between €40 million and €50 million for the Argentine.

"Tomorrow (Friday) his agent Marcelo Simonian will be in London to meet Chelsea," Zamparini told Stadio News.

"It's not true and this news (of Pastore joining PSG) is an invention," he told Radio Radio. "The only thing that is certain is that he is going abroad.

"We are in the decisive days now and I think Pastore is just one of a few world-class players, but I won't say where he is going, even under torture. The offers are between €40 million (£34.9m) and €50m (£43.6m)."

Pastore has been a hot target this summer.

The Metro has reported that both Chelsea and PSG will know if their bids were successful within 24 hours. However, PSG could hold the edge as their sporting director is Leonardo, ex-AC Milan and Inter coach, who made quite a few helpful contacts during his time in Italy.

Leonardo admitted as much, stating he shared a "good rapport" with Zamparini.

"It's true, I have a good rapport with Palermo President Maurizio Zamparini and everyone would like a player like Pastore,' confessed Leonardo. We are working on possibilities and want to bring players who above all believe in our project.

"At the moment our priority is to sign a new goalkeeper, as we are missing someone in that role."

Elsewhere, According to, Anderlecht has denied receiving a £20 million bid for Belgian whiz-kid Romelu Lukaku. The report quoted a spokesman of Anderlecht as saying, "There's no news on Lukaku. There has not been a bid from Chelsea or anyone and he's still an Anderlecht player."

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is believed to be a keen admirer of the 18-year-old and the Blues see the player as readymade replacement for Didier Drogba. Lukaku himself is said to be keen on a move to Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea face competition from fellow London sides Arsenal and Tottenham.

21-year-old striker Daniel Sturridge impressed during his loan spell at Bolton, and has continued that form into pre-season. It has led Villas-Boas to state that there is a possibility of keeping him at the club this season, as opposed to another loan move.

"I wouldn't like to focus again on an individual, but Daniel deserved above all to come back to this club and have this pre-season with us," Villas-Boas said.

"This is the group where he belongs and he has shown the quality he showed at Bolton when he went there. He has a natural ability and amazing physical qualities and I think he is showing that what he did in Bolton is enough to make a point for us in Chelsea, and that's why we are evaluating all situations.

"He is a great prospect, I have no doubt about it and we will make a decision soon and inform Daniel on his situation, but I think he has shown a lot of his qualities and he has shown enough capacity to be in this environment and this squad."

Villas-Boas' Chelsea have been in impressive form in pre-season.

Villas-Boas has adopted a rotating policy during pre-season, and the Portuguese went on to admit that it was in a bid to have all his players reach peak fitness in time for the beginning of the season.

"I think our objective is to finish as equal as possible in terms of minutes played to everyone," Villas-Boas said. "What we will do (against Aston Villa in the Asia Cup final) we will continue to do against Rangers, distributing minutes so everybody feels in shape, and reinforce the principles we have been applying to training in a game situation.

"It won't be only about selection but spreading out the minutes, hopefully making the seven substitutions we are allowed, which was changed from five. It is important to give minutes to everybody before the start of the Premiership so these two last games we will have we will keep this.

"Team performances and commitment and compromise have been excellent bearing in mind the conditions and situations we are facing. We take a big step with Aston Villa, bearing in mind the quality of the team they have and the new impetus Alex is trying to bring. It will be a different test from before.

"What they propose is a different level of competitiveness and intensity of the game. It will lack the emotions of the English stadiums but we will have a good atmosphere at Hong Kong Stadium because we have been getting that, and again it is a different kind of challenge for us.