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Hamburg poach third member of Chelsea's scouting staff and look to wrap up deals for Michael Mancienne and Jeffrey Bruma

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Chelsea's summer plans have taken another blow after technical scout Steve Houston became the third member of their recruitment team to leave for Hamburg.

Sporting director Frank Arnesen swapped Stamford Bridge for Hamburg following the end of the Premier League season, where he was followed by former Blues chief scout Lee Congleton.

Houston was highly regarded at the club after modernising the process for identifying potential signings by creating thorough reports on transfer targets through data modelling, visualisation and statistical and video analysis.

He was recruited by Chelsea in August 2009 after a successful spell in America with NBA team Houston Rockets, having previously worked in finance.

Along with the departures of Arnesen and Congleton – as well as manager Carlo Ancelotti – it leaves the Blues with a gaping hole in their transfer team just days before the transfer window officially opens on June 1.

Club insiders insist the situation will quickly be resolved once a new sporting director is appointed in the coming weeks, with no decision likely until after owner Roman Abramovich learns of Turkey manager Guus Hiddink's intentions.

The Dutchman, who briefly managed the London club in 2009, is the Blues' first choice to take over from Ancelotti and has also been offered the sporting director role. Hiddink, 64, will wait until after Turkey's game against Belgium on Friday night before making a decision on his future.

Until then, the Blues will try to press ahead with business in the transfer window as much as possible, with the likes of Gregory van der Wiel, Luka Modric, Romelu Lukaku and Neymar all potential targets. Arnesen had already been working on transfer targets before he left for Hamburg, while Hiddink recently revealed he has been advising Abramovich in an informal capacity.

Arnesen, who spent six years at Stamford Bridge, is now working on a £2.5 million deal to take Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne to Hamburg, with the 23-year-old desperate for playing opportunities to fulfill his potential.

Hamburg are also attempting to sign young Dutch defender Jeffrey Bruma on a season-long loan. The centre-back, who at 19 has already played for the Netherlands, is also a loan target for newly promoted QPR.

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