Chelsea join £40m race for Napoli sensation Edinson Cavani as they prepare to offload Didier Drogba & Fernando Torres

Roman Abramovich is expected to sanction the purchase of a new centre-forward in the summer to fill the void left by his struggling front pair
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Chelsea are poised to enter the race to sign Napoli sensation Edinson Cavani this summer as they prepare to offload struggling Fernando Torres for £20 million and out-of-contract Didier Drogba.

Roman Abramovich is expected to sanction the acquisition of a world-class striker as part of an extensive refurbishment of the squad at the end of the season.

Napoli frontman Cavani, who Chelsea will attempt to stop in Tuesday night’s Champions League round-of-16 first leg meeting, is one of the top targets to fill the void that is expected to be left by the departure of Drogba, whose deal expires at the end of the season, and possibly Torres as well.

It is thought that Napoli will listen to offers of around £40m for the prolific Uruguayan striker, who has supplemented the 33 goals in his first season at the club with another 22 in 28 matches in the current campaign.

Chelsea scouts have been regular observers at the Stadio San Paolo this season but the Londoners know they face intense competition to sign Cavani, who is also high on the shopping list of Manchester City.

Speaking ahead of the Napoli tie, manager Andre Villas-Boas said of the 25-year-old: “He’s an amazing player, but to be fair their strength is in the collective spirit. They have a strong front three with [Marek] Hamsik, Cavani and [Ezequiel] Lavezzi. They are a danger.”

Uefa’s new financial fair play regulations mean Chelsea will not be able to repeat their lavish spending sprees of 2003 and 2005 in the forthcoming summer, nor will they will be able to spend £76m on two players, as they did in January 2011 on Torres and David Luiz, without cashing in on some of the incumbents.

The club are believed to be willing to listen to any club prepared to offer around £20m for Torres and match his £160,000-a-week salary demands.

Chelsea are running out of patience with the 27-year-old who has failed to live up to his billing as one of the world’s best players during a miserable 13 months at the club.

He has scored just three goals in 34 Premier League games and has not netted in any competition since a double against Genk in the Champions League in October, a spell of four months and 20 matches.