The Times says Chelsea are working with several leading agents on a deal that could take more than a year to come to fruition. Milan have rejected several polite inquiries this summer and insisted that Kaka is not for sale at any price, but they indicated that they may be willing to do business in the future.

Chelsea's confidence springs from their close relationship with Milan and the fact that similar long-term tactics paid off in their courtship of Andriy Shevchenko, who was also part of the Milan family and whom they tried to sign in three successive summers before the Italian club relented.

The presence of Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager at Stamford Bridge also gives them an advantage because Kaka has expressed an interest in being reunited with the man who named him in his victorious World Cup-winning Brazil squad at the age of 19.