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Three billionaire, Saudi royalty and a UFC star… meet all the investors who could buy Chelsea

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Roman Abramovich’s time as Chelsea owner looks all but over after the Russian billionaire announced his intention to sell up on Wednesday.

Since purchasing the club from Ken Bates in 2003, Abramovich has transformed Chelsea’s fortunes and won 18 major trophies – the most of any English club in that time, equal with Manchester United.

But his tenure at Stamford Bridge appears to have been brought to an end following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with pressure growing for the government to sanction him and other Russian billionaires living in the UK.

Abramovich is selling the club with reluctance and speculation about his successor continues to grow.

Hansjorg Wyss

News of Abramovich’s intention to sell Chelsea first broke on Wednesday when billionaire Hansjorg Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick that he had been approached to buy the club.

Wyss, 86, earned his billions as the founder of Synthes, a manufacturer of bone fracture implants and surgical power tools which he sold to pharma behemoth Johnson & Johnson in 2012.

He has since become “among the most philanthropic people in the world”, in the words of Forbes, with a charitable foundation possessing more than $2bn in assets.

Todd Boehly

According to Inews US investors were showing interest in the club and it is thought that Boehly, chairman and chief executive of investing firm Eldridge Industries, is part of a consortium looking to make an offer.

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The part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team made a bid of over £2bn for Chelsea in 2019 which Abramovich reportedly rejected because it was £1bn shy of his asking price.

He worked his way up various American banks and investment funds before founding his Eldridge Industries in 2015.

Boehly has placed on record his interest in purchasing a Premier League club before and he has also previously joined forces with Wyss to pump equity into Eldridge, suggesting the two have an established working partnership. A representative of Eldridge did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in Britain, has developed an extensive sporting portfolio in recent years by rebranding the cycling squad Team Sky as Team Ineos and purchasing Ligue 1 football club Nice.

Ratcliffe’s billions originate in Ineos, a petrochemicals giant he founded in 1998, and he has been a season ticket holder at Chelsea despite being a Manchester United fan.

His sporting credentials may appeal to fans at Stamford Bridge, but the billionaire’s spokesperson sought to distance him from rumours of a takeover on Thursday.

They told Reuters that there is “no substance” to the claims.

Javed Afridi

Pakistani businessman Javed Afridi is a big name in the country’s domestic cricket scene as the owner of Peshawar Zalmi – a club who England’s Eoin Morgan, Liam Livingstone and Saqib Mahmood have all played for.

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Despite his relatively young age, the 36-year-old has amassed considerable wealth as the owner of electronics company Haier Pakistan and MG Motors Pakistan.

Reports broke on Thursday in the Pakistani press, with The Week claiming a meeting between Afridi and British fixers took place on Wednesday.

It is unlikely that Afridi would be the sole buyer but he could form part of a consortium of investors.

Loutfy Mansour

Loutfy Mansour, 39, is the Egyptian chief executive of Man Capital, the investment arm of his family’s conglomerate which has revenues in the region of $6bn (£4.4bn).

A season ticket holder at Stamford Bridge, Mansour’s business interests – which also include McDonalds’ Egyptian franchise – appear to provide the funds required for a takeover.

It remains to be seen whether that will come to fruition, however.

The Chelsea Foundation

In the statement he issued confirming his intention to sell Chelsea, Abramovich said he was transferring “stewardship and care” of the club to the trustees of its charitable foundation.

It is as yet unclear whether this will see his shares transferred to the trustees, or merely responsibility for managing the club’s day-to-day operations.

Chelsea’s current chairman Bruce Buck is also the chair of the Foundation’s board, while other trustees include Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes and Chelsea’s director of finance, Paul Ramos.

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Abramovich’s statement did not explain why he has made the decision or if it could become permanent in the future if another owner is not forthcoming, but it is clear that operational responsibilities are being shared at present.

Al-Waleed bin Talal

Grandson of Saudi Arabia’s first king, Al Waleed bin Talal is the billionaire founder of conglomerate Kingdom Holding Company.

In 2017, Forbes estimated his net worth at just shy of $40bn, spanning investments in banking giant Citigroup and 21st Century Fox – but he has never been involved in sport before.

The 66-year-old prince was detained by Saudi authorities in 2017 in an ostensible anti-corruption drive, being released after three months when he reached a financial settlement with King Salman.

Conor McGregor

UFC legend Conor McGregor cheekily threw his hat into the ring on Thursday night, tweeting a screenshot of a WhatsApp message to an unknown recipient saying “let’s buy it”.

Like Ratcliffe, McGregor is a Manchester United supporter and expressed an interest in purchasing the club last year.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, however, the Irishman’s entrance to the fray is unlikely to come off.

Even if he was serious in his interest, his $180m of earnings in 2021 are still some way short of Abramovich’s 10-figure valuation.

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Report: Arsenal now really Keen to sign ‘Astonishing’ attacker who scored more goals than Gabriel Jesus last season

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According to But Football Club, Arsenal want to sign Bayer Leverkusen and France winger Moussa Diaby before the transfer window shuts.

The Gunners are looking for a new wide player. Raphinha was high on their wish list and Mikel Arteta tried really hard to bring him in. The Brazilian, however, joined Barcelona for £55 million (Sky Sports) instead, and Arsenal have now apparently turned their attention to Diaby.

Arsenal really keen to sign Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen

Diaby is one of the finest players in the Bundesliga.

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The 23-year-old France international scored 17 goals and provided 14 assists in all competitions, which is a truly sensational return for a wide player.

His performances have caught the eye of a number of clubs, including Arteta’s Arsenal. The report claims that Diaby ‘strongly appeals’ to the Gunners boss, who is really keen to bring in a new winger before the window shuts.

The ‘astonishing‘ winger has come out and claimed that he wants to stay at Leverkusen this season, while the German outfit are keen to retain his services too.

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However, the report claims that if an offer in the region of £59.2 million arrives, they will let him go.

Arsenal don’t intend to pay that figure, but the report claims they will try to negotiate a deal for a lower fee.

Diaby still has three years left on his contract at Leverkusen.

Diaby really is a sensational player.

31 goal involvements in a single campaign for a 23-year-old wide player is a truly sensational return.

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Even Gabriel Jesus, who is viewed as the answer to Arsenal’s goalscoring woes, didn’t score as many goals as Frenchman last season.

Arsenal’s backup winger at the moment is Nicolas Pepe. The Ivorian, on his day, is unplayable, but sadly for Arsenal supporters, those days have rarely ever occurred over the last three years.

Diaby would be a massive upgrade over Pepe, but whether Arsenal can lure him in remains to be seen.

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Report: Star ready to join Man United now wants £33.7million contract

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The latest reports in the media are anything to go by and Adrien Rabiot’s mother-agent, Veronique, is proving to be a difficult negotiator.

Last night, we covered a story (via La Gazzetta Dello Sport) claiming that the French international has demanded a three-year deal worth £25.4million to move to Old Trafford.

This morning, as per Corriere dello Sport (news image provided below), the Red Devils have agreed a fee worth 17-18 million euros with Juventus but the dilemma is that the agreement with the player is still missing.

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Ten Hag contacted Rabiot to convince him to join Man Utd which is why the midfielder became willing to negotiate personal terms.

However, Veronique now wants a four-year contract worth 40 million euros (£33.7million) for his son and the negotiations have slowed down.

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Manchester United’s midfield department is in desperate need of reinforcements and Ten Hag may end up losing out on signing Frenkie de Jong to Chelsea.

The last big signing for the central midfield was done back in 2018 when Mourinho splashed the cash to lure Fred from Shakhtar. The Red Devils must act fast to strengthen things in the center of the park.

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Rabiot is neither as creative as Pogba nor as versatile as De Jong. However, he has experience of winning big titles with PSG and Juventus and even with France. So, in all fairness, he would be an upgrade to McFred.

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Man United pushing for Pogba replacement in more ways than one

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Manchester United may be about to take on another troublesome Frenchman, having just gotten rid of one.

The departures of Paul Pogba and others this summer have left new manager Erik ten Hag with a bare cupboard in terms of midfield options.

United have turned to Juventus outcast Adrien Rabiot, who is available for £15 million, after failing to secure Frenkie de Jong, the Ten Hag’s top transfer target, from Barcelona.

Rabiot, 27, isn’t particularly popular at Juventus and hasn’t replicated the form that established his reputation during the seven years he spent at PSG before that.

But it isn’t just on-field sluggishness that has harmed the reputation of a player who was once regarded as France’s golden boy.

Off-field squabbles and indiscretions, not only by Rabiot but also by his formidable mother and agent Veronique, have earned him a reputation as a difficult customer in the game.

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However, Ten Hag and United are becoming increasingly desperate. Despite the club’s insistence that their interest in Rabiot was firm prior to Sunday’s season-opening loss to Brighton, the timing appears to be a reactionary move.

And Rabiot’s rap sheet contains numerous items that could cause United to live to regret their decision.

Rabiot was on the verge of breaking into the PSG senior squad after graduating from their academy in 2012.

Rabiot was supposed to travel to Qatar with the team for a mid-season tour, but his mother insisted on accompanying him.

Veronique, Rabiot’s uncompromising agent, enters the picture. After his father, Michel Provost, suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him with locked-in syndrome, she took over his career. Michel is paralysed but fully aware.

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Her insistence on accompanying the tour caused friction, and Rabiot was eventually loaned out to Toulouse.

Even stranger, she allegedly insisted on attending all of their training sessions while there.

Two years later, Rabiot was on the verge of leaving PSG after Laurent Blanc demoted him to the reserves.

Veronique was waiting for Blanc as he left PSG’s Camp des Loges training facility one evening.

‘You can’t treat him like that. ‘I’m not going to agree to that,’ Blanc was told, presumably forcefully.

PSG had no choice but to call in security, but the confrontation appeared to work.

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Rabiot’s contract with PSG was renewed – and on better terms – not long after he failed to secure a move to Roma.

France’s hopes of adding the European Championship to their World Cup glory last year ended when they lost on penalties to Switzerland in the last-16.

Afterwards, an extraordinary video emerged of Veronique confronting Mbappe’s father, Wilfried, after the PSG striker missed the decisive spot-kick.

It is thought she said: ‘It is embarrassing how he struck that, for a player of his level. He hit it too lightly, I hope you are going to scold him.’

Apparently during an earlier discussion, Veronique told Wilfried his son was ‘arrogant’, has a ‘big head’ and gets ‘too much protection from the press.’

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