Stamford Bridge set for summer of change.
Chelsea are set to announce the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge early next week and the Portuguese manager will be handed a significant transfer war-chest as Blues owner Roman Abramovich seeks to strengthen the club’s squad ahead of a push to mount a genuine challenge for domestic and European silverware.
CaughtOffside understands that Mourinho has already spoken with Abramovich at length with regards to potential summer transfer plans and has come to an agreement on a joint approach to discuss possible targets with current technical director Michael Emenalo.
Billionaire Abramovich is ready to dig deep once again having seen his side experience something of an up and down season, that did result in interim boss Rafa Benitez securing a Europa League triumph though will also be remembered for the meek manner in which Chelsea surrendered their Champions League title.
The falling at the first hurdle of the Champions League in part cost Roberto Di Matteo his job and Chelsea’s third place finish, though securing another shot at the showpiece trophy, was the very least Abramovich expected from Benitez.
Mourinho has identified six high-profile captures he will look to secure in what could prove to be a very busy summer transfer window for the 50 year old boss, who left Real Madrid last night following a tempestuous three year spell at the Bernabeu.
In his pursuit of improving the Chelsea attack Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich are agreed on their number one target, Napoli goal machine Edinson Cavani, a player who has been strongly linked with a move away from the San Paolo this summer.
The arrival of Rafa Benitez at Napoli could aid Chelsea’s push to be the side to snap up the 26 year old Uruguayan, who finished the Serie A season as top-scorer, helping his side to a runners-up spot.
Abramovich will look to offset some of the reported £55m it would take to persuade Partenopei owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to sell by offering Fernando Torres as a makeweight in any move for Cavani, clearly such an advance would have more traction given the value Benitez has previously stored in the Spaniard.
In keeping with Abramovich’s recent youthful transfer policy Mourinho will look to lure Southampton defender Luke Shaw from St Mary’s as a long term successor to Ashley Cole.
Chelsea are willing to stump up as much as £10m for the teenager though it could perhaps take an offer that includes incremental bonuses to the South Coast club for a deal to be agreed. Helpfully for the Stamford Bridge side Shaw is a self confessed Blues fan.
Shaw made great strides in his debut Premier League season, racking up 24 starts in all competitions last term, this despite the fact that the full-back is still five weeks shy of his 18th birthday.
Whilst Mourinho is said to have pressed Abramovich to offer Frank Lampard a fresh one year contract extension it appears that the returning Blues manager is not so emotionally attached to John Terry and as such is looking at bringing in FC Porto youngster Eliaquim Mangala to act as a long term replacement for the Chelsea defender.
Mourinho feels he could do with strengthening his defence as he believes Brazilian David Luiz is far better suited to a defensive midfield role and is known to be a keen admirer of the 22 year old, who is on the fringes of the French national team set-up.
Mangala is thought to have a €25m (£21m) release clause that Chelsea are willing to trigger this summer. The former Standard Liege centre-back was the focal point of a FC Porto defence that conceded just 14 goals in a 30 game Primeira Liga season.
Luka Modric has proved some of his Real Madrid doubters wrong in recent months, recovering from a shaky start to his Bernabeu career and dubbed by Marca as one of the worst La Liga signings in recent years.
Mourinho believes he can persuade his former employers to allow the Croatian be brought back to the Premier League for a similar fee to the £25m invested in the midfield schemer a last summer and with Mourinho’s replacement likely to make sweeping changes to the Real Madrid squad the former Tottenham man, who has long been linked with interest from Chelsea, would be tempted by the chance to reunite with the Portuguese boss back in London.
One member of Jose Mourinho’s summer wish-list pre-dates his planned return to Chelsea and that comes in the form of highly rated German international Andre Schurrle, who is thought to be very close to sealing a £20m move to the club.
Belgian youngster Kevin de Bruyne is expected to complete a loan move to Bayer Leverkusen as part of any move to bring in the 22 year old though if that element of the deal falls through Chelsea are willing to bump up their bid to sign a player they have been tracking for the best part of a year.
Abramovich has seen two previous bids for the former Mainz man fail but has grown more determined to sign Schurrle following his excellent displays this term, during which the Bayer Leverkusen man has scored 11 goals and provided seven assists to help Sami Hyypia’s side secure a third place finish in the Bundesliga.
Jose Mourinho will also attempt to land fellow German international Sami Khedira, though a move to do so will prove tougher than any advance for Modric.
The Real Madrid defensive midfielder is likely to be a player president Florentino Perez isn’t looking to offload this summer and as such could cost Chelsea a hefty price.
The former Stuttgart enforcer has seen off the challenge of the likes of Lassana Diarra and loaned in Michael Essien to make the central midfield spot his own, making 36 starts in all competitions in 2012/13.
Mourinho may feel that Khedira is an improvement on the defensive midfielders currently in the Chelsea squad with the likes of John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Oriol Romeu available to the ‘Special One’ as he takes the reins at the Premier League side.
Chelsea are likely to trim their playing staff in order to make way for any additions with the likes of Florent Malouda, Yossi Benayoun and Paulo Ferreira leaving the club this summer with the contracts not being renewed.
The likes of Ross Turnbull, Marko Marin and the aforementioned De Bruyne could leave to help make room for new arrivals, though clearly their sales would not result in huge sums going into the Chelsea kitty.