Chelsea and Man Utd handed boost in pursuit of Jackson Martinez
Premier League title chances Chelsea (3/1) and reigning champions Manchester United have received a boost in their respective bids to sign Porto striker Jackson Martinez, after his agent denied talks over a move to Roma had taken place.
Reports from the continent initially claimed that the 27-year-old Colombia international could be sold to the Eternal City outfit this summer, but Guglielmo Lara dampened this.
“Roma are a great club, without doubt, but Porto haven’t started any talks for a sale at this moment,” he said.
Martinez is understood to have a £40m release clause in his current deal with the Estadio do Dragao side, and is under contract there until June 2016. He is the Portuguese top-flight’s leading marksman with 18 this term.
That is more league goals than Chelsea trio Demba Ba, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres have scored in total, but England’s premier division is widely considered to be more competitive.
United, meanwhile, may need another striking option as rumours persist that Javier Hernandez will leave Old Trafford in search of regular first-team football.
Porto are in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League as they trail Benfica and a resurgent Sporting Lisbon in the table. Only two of Portugal’s top teams can play in the elite club competition in Europe.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho has linked to Porto because of his successful UEFA Cup and Champions League winning campaigns at the club in 2003 and 2004. That may put him ahead of Red Devils counterpart David Moyes in the race for Martinez’s signature.
Injury to leading Colombian scorer in qualifying Radamel Falcao may see Martinez promoted into Jose Pekerman’s starting XI at the World Cup finals in Brazil, if the Monaco frontman fails to recover in time.
Competition for a place in attack is cut-throat, however, with the likes of Teofilo Gutierrez, Sevilla hotshot Carlos Bacca and Adrian Ramos, who will switch Bundesliga clubs from Hertha Berlin to Borussia Dortmund, all in contention.
Martinez is an 80/1 shot with Coral to be top scorer at the World Cup, and Colombia are odds-on favourites to top Group C, which also contains Greece, Japan and the Ivory Coast, at 8/11. They are also 22/1 chances to go all the way in Brazil.