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Chelsea owner Abramovich ready to splash out for Palermo star Pastore

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is launching a bid for Palermo star Javier Pastore.

The Sunday Express says Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas is believed to be prepared to go head to head with mentor Jose Mourinho for Palermo's Argentinian playmaker Pastore.

Bringing in a world class midfielder became the Portuguese manager's top priority last night after it was revealed that Michael Essien could be out for several weeks with another knee injury.

And 22-year-old Pastore, valued at more than £30m by his Sicilian club, has been identified as the target if they fail to prise Tottenham's Luka Modric across London.

But Villas-Boas faces serious competition from Mourinho's Real Madrid for Pastore, who was voted young player of the season in Italy's Serie A last year. Malaga and Manchester City are also believed to be tracking him.

Palermo's president, Maurizio Zamparini, revealed Chelsea's interest in a whizkid they imported from the south American club Huracan for £5m two years ago after Diego Maradona gave him his first international cap.

And even though Pastore's contract doesn't expire until 2014, Zamparini admitted they were resigned to losing him.

"It looks as if Pastore will move abroad and Real Madrid and Chelsea lead the race for his services," he said.

 It's kicking off again! Click here for your No1 source for Chelsea transfer market news and gossip.

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