Thursday 14 December 2017

Ancelotti unfazed by Chelsea's lack of spending

Jeremy Wilson

For most clubs, the loss of five of European football's most experienced and decorated players would be the source of consternation rather than optimism.

Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Ricardo Carvalho, Deco and Juliano Belletti share not just a tally of 23 winners medals across the major leagues in Europe but also a familiarity this summer with the Stamford Bridge exit door.

In their place only Yossi Benayoun and Ramires have arrived yet, as Chelsea begin the defence of their Premier League title against West Bromwich Albion today, Carlo Ancelotti is predicting that his double-winning team are on the cusp of a sustained new era of success.

"It will be more difficult but we have fantastic motivation," he said. "With the victory of the Premier League and the FA Cup we have the opportunity to open a cycle. The squad has good experience and is at the right time. My best years as a player were between 28 and 32.

"We are ready, if it is possible, to improve our quality, our personality, our courage. We have less doubt compared to the start of last year because I have a better relationship with my players and my club. I think Manchester United will be the main rivals because they have history, tradition, quality."

Ancelotti also dismissed the relevance of Manchester City replacing Chelsea as the Premier League's most extravagant club.

"I think you have to buy a player when you need to have a player," he said. "We followed our aims and philosophy. We wanted to refresh the squad and we did this. Manchester City have had to build a team."

Chelsea are still working on various targets. The signing of Brazil midfielder Ramires was formally announced last night, while Ancelotti also confirmed his admiration for Neymar. Santos are threatening a complaint to FIFA about Chelsea's pursuit of Neymar, an 18-year-old Brazilian, although both the player and Ancelotti were yesterday denying any knowledge of the story.

"Neymar is a fantastic player but he is not a Chelsea player," said Ancelotti. "We are interested in all the young players that come from all over the world. Neymar is one of these but this doesn't mean we have to buy this player. Ramires will be the future of the Brazilian national team and I hope he will be the future of Chelsea. He is a complete player."

With the £6.7m sale of Carvalho to Real Madrid earlier this week, Chelsea are confident that Jeffrey Bruma, an 18-year-old Holland international, can supplement John Terry, Alex and Branislav Ivanovic at centre-back. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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