More turmoil behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge
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Frank Arnesen has thrown Chelsea into further disarray by telling owner Roman Abramovich he will leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.
It means manager Carlo Ancelotti, under pressure despite winning the Double last season, will lose another close confidant, having seen Ray Wilkins removed as assistant coach a fortnight ago.
Arnesen, Chelsea’s director of football, plans to walk away from Stamford Bridge just as some of the young players he has brought in start to establish themselves in Ancelotti’s first team.
Manchester City and Aston Villa are among the Premier League clubs interested in keeping the 54-year-old Dane in English football.
Arnesen was at Chelsea’s training base in Surrey on Friday but may now be on borrowed time. It means more disruption behind the scenes for a club rocked by the sacking of Wilkins, Ancelotti’s popular assistant manager, earlier this month. Wilkins is currently in a legal dispute over the decision.
Chelsea paid Tottenham £5million compensation for Arnesen to join them in June 2005. Originally in charge of all player recruitment, his role has altered and he now controls the development of young players in the academy.
Last season, the Blues won the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 49 years and, this season some of those players have graduated to the first team, like Josh McEachran, Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma.
They love a bit of drama on Fulham Road, don’t they? Just when everything’s going swimmingly – reigning champions and FA Cup holders, handsome lead at the top of the Premier League – everything seems to fall apart. It’s almost as if everyone at Stamford Bridge just gets bored and decides to shake things up a little.
But being serious for a moment, it seems a curious time for Frank Arnesen to be leaving. Having arrived with great fanfare in 2005, it is only now that Chelsea are bginning to reap the rewards of his work with 17-year-old Josh McEacvran a real diamond that has been unearthed and polished down at Cobham. The Chelsea Academy seems to be flourishing so change is probably not what is needed right now.
But did he jump or was he pushed? There have been rumours for months that Roman Abramovich wants to bring in Txiki Begiristain – the man credited for the development of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta at FC Barcelona though not for discovering them in the first place – as aprt of his dream to emulate the Catalan giants. Don’t be surprised to see the former Director of Football at the Camp Nou installed in west London sooner rather than later.
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