Wednesday 21 March 2018

Jose Mourinho to be handed £100m to take Chelsea back to the top

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

JOSE MOURINHO will set foot back in Stamford Bridge tomorrow with a list of high-profile transfer targets and a blueprint for taking Chelsea back to the top of the English game.

The 50-year-old will be formally unveiled as the new Chelsea manager, just under six years after his first spell came to a close with a terse club statement announcing he had left by mutual consent.

Mourinho will reportedly be handed a summer transfer kitty of over £100million - and among the names already linked are Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, Montenegrin international Stevan Jovetic, and Xabi Alonso.

But it is the club's existing squad of players which may provide Mourinho with his biggest headache as he considers what to do with the likes of David Luiz, Fernando Torres and perhaps even John Terry.

Terry was the driving force in lifting the club to their first league title in over half a century during Mourinho's initial spell in charge, but at the age of 32 he may struggle to replicate such a role.

The club captain has one year remaining on his existing contract and Monaco are reported to have shown interest.

Mourinho may choose to reinstall Terry as the central point around which he will shape his second Stamford Bridge revolution, or he may be happy with him as a squad member. A ruthless option would be to usher him through the exit door and establish a fresh, younger figurehead for the seasons ahead.

The likelihood is that Terry will stay though, with Mourinho talking earlier this week of how the senior men who remain from his first spell in charge would remain "very important for the club and the balance of the squad".

The future of Terry's fellow centre-back Luiz may also be in doubt as he has been linked with Barcelona and big-spending Paris St Germain.

Striker Torres will be all ears, with the £50million striker surely unwilling to sink down the pecking order should the likes of Cavani come in.

Mourinho has already dropped some hints about the way he sees the first squad of his second reign taking shape, by signalling Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne have important futures at the club. Thibaut Courtois, the outstanding young Belgian goalkeeper, may also find himself summoned back to London after two impressive years at Atletico Madrid.

Mourinho, from across the Spanish capital with Real Madrid, will have been able to pay particularly close attention, and should Courtois be in his plans then it will mean real competition for Petr Cech next season.

Striker Lukaku earned rave reviews during his loan spell at West Brom last season with a number of clubs closely monitoring his situation, but the 20-year-old Belgian says he has been told to return to Chelsea full-time, to join Mourinho's squad.

Lukaku told Sky Sports this week: "He has a press conference and he will tell the people on Monday who he wants in his squad and who he doesn't want in his squad. It's always been my ambition to play over there so I'm going back for pre-season to do well and then hopefully have a chance."

The chance to play under Mourinho is one Lukaku is determined to seize, as he said: "It's been years that I've been waiting for this moment. He wants to bring titles back. We are very hungry to win more things and hopefully the Barclays Premier League. We have the squad to do it and hopefully we can do it this year."

De Bruyne is also seemingly back in the frame after impressing during a spell in the Bundesliga last season with Werder Bremen. Like Courtois and Lukaku, midfielder De Bruyne is another emerging Belgian talent.

A number of Bundesliga rivals were keen to keep him in Germany but Leverkusen general manager Michael Reschke told Bild last week: "At a meeting on Wednesday in Leipzig, Chelsea and Jose Mourinho made it clear that Kevin will return to Chelsea."

The landscape of English football has changed a little since Mourinho's first spell, with Sir Alex Ferguson out of the frame and Manchester City now eager trophy hunters.

On his first introduction as Chelsea manager, Mourinho branded himself 'The Special One', and fearlessly went straight into a battle for honours with the likes of Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

Tomorrow Mourinho returns with that tag now synonymous with his name, and with every supporter dyed in Chelsea blue looking for a dash of that mischievous glint in his eye as proof he again means business.

Press Association

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