CHELSEA’S newest recruit Yuri Zhirkov has admitted that accepting a switch to Stamford Bridge was an easy decision.
The versatile Russia international, 25, who can play anywhere down the left flank, signed a three-year contract yesterday after sealing his £18m move from CSKA Moscow. Zhirkov said he could not have rejected the dream transfer, having seen compatriots Dmitri Kharine, the former goalkeeper, and midfielder Alexei Smertin enjoy stints at the Blues.
“Any footballer would be happy to sign a contract with Chelsea, and at any time,” Zhirkov said.
“I have been received very well here, and have been shown the base at the Cobham training ground, everything is super. I always used to watch
English football on the television and know about Dmitri Kharine and Alexei Smertin at Chelsea.”
Zhirkov, who rose to prominence during the 2008 European Championships, admits he needs language lessons but has already found an interpreter in Chelsea’s Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech.
He added: “Of course it is good when some of the players speak Russian, even today Petr Cech translated some bits and pieces, and I understand some words in English. Now I hope to learn English too.”
Zhirkov is new manager Carlo Ancelotti’s third signing of the summer, after Middlesbrough goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge.
Ancelotti is also expected to let some players leave, although Chelsea’s asking price for Portuguese pair Ricardo Carvalho and Deco has dissuaded Inter Milan.
Inter coach Jose Mourinho, who managed Deco at Porto and took Carvalho to Chelsea, is keen to be reunited with the ageing pair. But the Italian club’s transfer consultant Lele Oriali said yesterday talks had stalled.
“We know they are ready to negotiate over these two players, but the asking price is too high,” said Oriali. “It’s unrealistic for us in the current conditions. At the moment the deal is closed, and we don’t know if it will open up again later on.”