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Monday, 02 June 2008

So Who Does Jose Mourinho Want From Chelsea?

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Now that Jose Mourinho has been confirmed as Inter Milan coach, the guessing game about his intentions can shift up a notch. The Sun moved in this morning by suggesting that Michael Essien would be target Number One.

The name of Essien might have come as a surprise to Stamford Bridge fans; up to now the attention has been mainly on three other names- Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ricardo Carvalho.

In a strange way, Chelsea fans have learned to live with the speculation about that trio- Drogba because he's made it clear he wants to be elsewhere, Carvalho because he isn't the best centre back at the club and Lampard as he's 29 now, though still a top player.

Essien though is different; a powerhouse force in the midfield who can do so many different jobs in the middle, plus do a passable job in the defensive roles -and he's a player in his prime.

Chelsea could deal with the loss of a couple from the Drogba-Carvalho-Lampard trio but finding a like for like replacement for the Ghanian would be a much tougher job. Given what Mourinho used to say about Essien it would be a surprise if he didn't enquire about him; however, Chelsea are likely to resist any bid for the 'Train'.

The ex-Lyons man hasn't shown any inclination to leave Chelsea who can surely match any wages offered by Inter. Whether Mourinho's personal magnetism can have an affect remains to be seen.

On the evidence of when he left Porto, Mourinho will take at least someone from his old club. At Chelsea he brought Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and later Maniche from his Champions League winnng side. He was often linked with midfielder Deco who eventually stayed at Barcelona.

It seems Drogba is the prime candidate as he has a house in Milan and clearly would like to be away. Carvalho is also likely as Chelsea would probably do a deal for the defender.

Lampard though has to be unlikely- there's no guarantee that Inter have a better chance of winning the Champions League than Chelsea and the Stamford Bridge hierarchy should finally make a move to give him a big enough package to recognise his 20 goal a season contribution.

There could be other players on Mourinho's list but the Inter crowd expect big names- John Obi Mikel and Joe Cole wouldn't make a big enough splash and Claude Makalele is surely too long in the tooth. Andrei Shevchenko would simply cause a riot.

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Hugh Larkin



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