By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Chelsea are closing in on the signature of Radamel Falcao after opening informal talks on a sensational £48.1 million January move, Goal.com has learned.
Club chiefs, acting on the instruction of owner Roman Abramovich, have made it clear to Falcao that they want to activate the €60m (£48.1m) release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract.
Goal.com understands that the Colombian striker has responded to the interest by telling Chelsea that he wants to move to Stamford Bridge in the winter window.
Despite competing enquiries in the 26-year-old from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, Falcao is now destined for a switch to Stamford Bridge at the turn of the year.
|8/13||Chelsea are 8/13 with Paddy Power to be Falcao's next permanent club
The European champions have made Falcao a contract offer and it is believed that personal terms have already been agreed on a deal that is likely to make the striker one of the highest paid players in Premier League history.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo regards the Fifa Ballon D’or contender as an upgrade on Fernando Torres, who has had a mixed start to the season despite scoring seven goals in 18 matches, each of them starts. The future of Torres’ understudy Daniel Sturridge is also in considerable doubt despite his presence in the England squad that plays Sweden on Wednesday night.
Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more than Falcao’s 10 La Liga goals this season, a record the Colombia enhanced with a hat-trick against Chelsea in Atletico’s 4-1 Super Cup win in August.
Falcao has the pedigree and star quality which Chelsea thought they had acquired with the £50m purchase of Torres in January 2010 but the Spaniard is now likely to be put up for sale to help fund the purchase of the player earmarked to be his replacement.
Atletico are desperate to keep Falcao but will have no option if a club activates the buyout clause for a player who cost £34.7m when he joined from Porto in 2011.
After posting an annual profit for the first time in Abramovich’s nine-year reign, Chelsea are confident that signing Falcao would not affect the club’s chances of meeting Uefa’s financial fair play regulations.
City’s chances of landing the former River Plate front man are receding, even though Roberto Mancini wants to take him to the Etihad Stadium.
Since moving from south America to Europe in 2009, Falcao has scored 121 goals in 147 matches for Porto and Atletico.
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