BANGKOK: The new manager of English football club Chelsea on Saturday announced a deal with Barcelona to sign teenager Oriol Romeu, as the London team prepared for a game in Thailand on their Asia tour.
Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas confirmed agreement had been reached with the Spanish giants but said the 19-year-old defensive midfielder had yet to finalise personal terms or pass a medical. The fee was not disclosed.
“I wouldn't like to share a lot because he is not (yet) our player,”Villas-Boas said, describing Romeu as “one of the most interesting, bright young players in the number six position”.
Romeu is currently with the Spain Under-20 squad, which is soon to compete in the World Cup for that age level in Columbia, Villas-Boas said at a press conference ahead of Chelsea's match with Thailand All Stars on Sunday.
“You know that it is a fact that we are struggling with numbers, not only after Michael's injury, but we wanted to bring in players in those positions,” he added, referring to Michael Essien, who suffered knee damage in training earlier this month.
“Oriol is a player, of course, with a bright future. He still has to evolve,” said Villas-Boas, adding that Romeu's Barcelona B team had “a magnificent year”.
Chelsea confirmed the agreement in a statement on their website, saying Romeu joined the Camp Nou academy in 2004, “progressing through the ranks” until he was able to debut for the first team at the end of last season.
He is described on Barcelona's website as “one of the strongest players around” and “indispensable”.
Essien could be out for up to six months following surgery on his knee, a blow to the Blues as they look to regain the English title from Manchester United after finishing a distant second, by nine points, to the champions last season.
Chelsea failed to shine in Malaysia on Thursday in the first match of their 15-day Asia tour.
The Stamford Bridge team won 1-0 in the capital Kuala Lumpur but the game was marred by racial abuse directed at their midfielder Yossi Benayoun –- the first Israeli to play in the Muslim-majority nation.
Their next stop after Thailand will be Hong Kong, where they play a friendly against Kitchee, a local team, before ending their tour against either Blackburn Rovers or Aston Villa.