Chelsea closing in on Zhirkov

Chelsea are believed to be closing in on the signing of CSKA Moscow full-back Yuri Zhirkov for £18.6 million.

The 25-year-old has been continually linked with a move to the Blues this summer, with coach Guus Hiddink reported to have instructed owner Roman Abramovich to splash out on the player to boost the Stamford Bridge side's squad.

Liverpool chief Rafael Benitez was also thought to be pondering a move for the highly-rated defender - dubbed the 'Russian Ronaldinho' - who impressed in Russia's run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

While Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin recommended his fellow countryman to the Gunners, whose fans are hopeful of several experienced heads arriving at the Emirates Stadium this summer to compliment a squad awash with talented starlets.

However, it appears the Blues are in pole position to land the man ranked 50th in FourFourTwo's 100 Best Players in the World.

And CSKA Moscow chief Zico believes Zhirkov would be a huge success in the Premier League.

“Zhirkov is a player of such high level, he would only show all his potential playing in such a strong competition as the English Premier League," he said.

“He’d easily fit into Chelsea’s first-choice team. I don’t like to lose him, but I won’t stop his move to London.”

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