IT is almost two years since Sir Alex Ferguson suggested Chelsea’s squad was too old to challenge the dominance of his Manchester United team.
Carlo Ancelotti irrefutably proved that wrong on Sunday when his men reclaimed the title, and, even though he has been told cash is available, the Italian is set to resist calls for major surgery and keep faith with his experienced team.
The former AC Milan coach, who is on course to complete a historic double when the Blues meet Portsmouth in Saturday’s FA Cup final, has played down the prospect of a summer spending spree by insisting he has “a very good squad, for next year and the years after”.
Yet with seven of the team who started against Wigan to be in their thirties by the end of ther year, the feeling remains that Chelsea will be active in the transfer market, albeit perhaps for just one or two top-class acquisitions, as owner Roman Abramovich looks to cement his outfit’s return to the top of the pile.
Captain John Terry has suggested as much, saying: “We definitely want to do it again but all the big four — ourselves, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal — need to strengthen because everyone has become closer to us. No doubt it will be a busy summer for the big clubs.”
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery are both thought open to moves to bigger clubs and are long-standing targets at Stamford Bridge. Ancelotti is also believed to be keen on his former pupil at Milan, the young Brazil forward Pato.
“If the right player is available that Carlo wants to bring into his squad and if it fits with everything else then we’ll bring him in,” chief executive Ron Gourlay said yesterday.
“The money will be there but we’ll stick to our goal of being self-sufficient and that’s very, very important.
“We would not get involved a bidding war. If there is any player that has become available and we feel they can strengthen our team then it will be on the terms of Chelsea.”
BRIDGE BOUND? THREE OF CHELSEA’S TOP TARGETS
Fernando Torres £70m
Chelsea have long coveted the Spain striker, who looks increasingly likely to flee hard-up Liverpool this summer
Franck Ribery £40m
Bid for France winger failed last year but he looks set to leave now. The catch is that Real Madrid are also in the hunt
Ancelotti nurtured the Brazil hotshot as a teenager at Milan and has been linked with a deal since moving to London