Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has confirmed that the signing of Gonzalo Higuain is 'hours away', but that the deal will not be done in time for the striker to face Tottenham in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final.
However, the midday deadline for registering players ahead of the Blues' crucial clash with Tottenham has passed, meaning one of Eden Hazard or Olivier Giroud will have to lead the line.
“I know they have been trying to sign the contract with him today. They are still a few hours from getting it done," Sarri said.
“I don't know exactly the rule here. Midday? Ah, it's impossible [for him to play against Spurs].
“I don't know [about the medical] because I have to speak with the doctor. I didn't see him before. Then I have to speak to the club. For tomorrow, I think, it's impossible.”
The Italian manager was full of praise for a man he worked with at Napoli during the 2015-16 season that saw the frontman equal a league record for goals scored in a single campaign.
“He's a very strong striker," he added.
"Especially in my first season in Naples. He did very well. He scored 36 goals in 35 matches in Serie A. That season he scored 39 goals. So he did very, very well. For sure, he is one of the best strikers in my career.”
The Blues tactician explained that he believes 31-year-old Higuain possesses the right combination of experience and ability to boost Chelsea's attack, which has struggled this season, scoring the fewest Premier League goals of any 'top six' club.
“He played four seasons for Real Madrid, I think. I think he has the right experience to play here.
"We hope he brings goals, that he starts scoring for us. He's also very good at other aspects, other than just goals, but that's what we are hoping for.
"He has had some difficulties recently, but we're hoping we can raise him back to his best form.”
Sarri believes that the club have done good business in landing the Argentine in the winter window, and defended the forward from criticism about his mentality and goal-return for AC Milan.
"I think the club agree with me when I told them my opinion about the team. It's very difficult in January to find one of the most important strikers in the world. So the club is working very well.
“He wants to win all the time and, in the last five years, he's only lost his temper twice: with Napoli against Udinese, and with Milan against Juve.
"It's only because he wants to win. As for failure, he's still scored nine goals in a team that isn't at the same level as Juventus.”