Abramovich gives Mourinho full control over old guard's future
Roman Abramovich has underlined his faith in Jose Mourinho by granting him the autonomy to decide whether Chelsea offer Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole new contracts.
In a shift in club policy from the tenures of Rafael Benitez and Roberto di Matteo, Abramovich is placing full trust in his manager to oversee the transition of the squad and make football judgments about the future of key players.
A £22m deal to bring Nemanja Matic back to Chelsea from Benfica is almost complete and although the addition of another central midfielder will place fresh pressure on Lampard, his situation is likely to be helped by the power that Mourinho has established on his return.
The attitude of the board is that Mourinho will remain manager in the long term and that their role, within the constraints of meeting Uefa's new financial fair-play guidelines, is to back his decisions.
Mourinho is yet to make his final recommendation on Terry, Lampard and Cole, who are all out of contract in the summer, but he does want to maintain a nucleus of experienced "club legends".
Terry is now almost certain to stay at Chelsea beyond this season after enjoying a resurgence of form under Mourinho.
Although he will now rotate Lampard, Mourinho still regards him as a valuable option in central midfield alongside Matic, Ramires and John-Obi Mikel.
Mourinho's attitude towards Cole will cause most intrigue after he has regularly consigned the England left-back to the bench this season. Chelsea will push to sign Luke Shaw from Southampton during the summer and Cole's future could hinge on whether they can clinch that deal.
The capture of Matic, however, is extremely significant to Mourinho's planning. He had identified holding midfield and striker as the two areas that he most wanted to strengthen and his summer priority will be another attempt to prise Wayne Rooney from Manchester United. The Matic deal will largely be financed by the imminent £18m sale of Kevin de Bruyne to Wolfsburg.
Ahead of the visit of Manchester United on Sunday, Mourinho also predicted that David Moyes' team are "probably" now out of the race to win the Premier League title. (© Daily Telegraph, London)