Who Will Scolari Keep At Chelsea?

No-one could have failed to miss the press going into overdrive when it comes to who Scolari may or may not want to bring to Stamford Bridge next season and if we were to believe everything we read we’ll have a squad of around 44 to choose from and none of them worth less than £20million apiece. But what about the players we’ve already got? At the end of last season the list of want-aways seemed to be a lot longer than the list wanting to hang around but with Scolari named as our next manager that list might have shortened a little. And what about the man himself, are there any key players he should be looking at keeping?

Well, top of the want-away list, practically from the day Mourinho left last season is Didier Drogba. In fact, only those who’ve been living in a cave for the past year wouldn’t know he’s been unhappy at Chelsea for at least that long – or even from the day he was dragged kicking and screaming into the club, if you believe everything he says on a bad day. So given he’s been reported as saying Chelsea supporters are glory hunters who don’t respect him and he showed about the same level of respect back in the Champions League final, will he now have a change of heart and more to the point, will Scolari want him to? Drogba’s made it clear he’s ready for a move to Milan, then again that he wants to stay and is being ‘forced out’ of the Bridge. Personally I think he’s just covering all angles and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him packing his bags.  I also doubt he’s fussy which side of the San Siro he ends up on and subject to a cheap enough deal, AC Milan have expressed more than a keen interest in the Ivorian. As for Scolari, I can’t see him standing in the way of this particular move. Firstly, he doesn’t strike me as the sort of manager who’d be prepared to put up with the sort of behaviour Drogba’s got away with under previous regimes and secondly, would he be as prepared as others to continue with the long-ball over the top style Drogba’s accustomed to? I’d have to say Scolari’s probably put the feelers out for a new striker already, so that’s the first want-away sorted.

Another player surrounded by uncertainty over the past season has been Frank Lampard. The contract he threatened to sign last summer obviously wasn’t big enough and at the present time remains unsigned. So, he’s now got himself into a position where he’s got one year left on his contract and Mourinho trying to tempt him with a move to Inter. From Lampard’s point of view, as attached as he says he is to Chelsea, he’s not getting any younger and a move to Inter now could be his last chance to try his luck elsewhere. Then again, would Inter be willing to pay him the £130,000 a week he’s hoping Chelsea will give him to stay? Whilst from Chelsea’s angle, Lampard, as part of our English backbone, has always been a key player both in the dressing room and on the pitch and he’s certainly contributed plenty of goals from the midfield. Personally, I can’t see Scolari being too keen to let Frank go and with a contract talks on the agenda for next week, I imagine he’ll get the sort of contract he’s been holding out for.

Also with just a year left to run on his contract is Michael Ballack, although the German midfielder doesn’t seem to be holding it over us in quite the same way as Lampard. In fact, he’s already suggested he’ll be ready to sit down and talk about a new contract once the Euros are out of the way. The only spanner likely to be in the works here are the watching eyes of both Real Madrid and Ballack’s former club Bayern Munich. But whilst from a personal point of view, the change in both his commitment and performances last season have seen a complete turnaround in my opinion of him – and I’d hate to see him go – with ever increasing rumours of Deco’s arrival, I’m not so sure Scolari won’t see Ballack as surplus to requirements.

No doubt with the help of the odd phone call or two, another player attracted to Inter Milan, or at least their new boss, is Ricardo Carvalho. Recent statements in the press have heard the defender suggest he would “love” to team up with his former Porto and Chelsea manager again. However, losing one of the best defenders in the world and certainly our best centre-back, isn’t an idea that would appeal to many of us and I’m sure Scolari would feel the same way. And whilst I still think that as a rule contracts are pretty obscene these days, if you consider the sort of money Terry (and Lampard soon no doubt), Ballack and Shevchenko are on, I think an improved contract of £90,000 a week is the least Chelsea will do to keep him. But will that be enough given he thinks we’re a “cruel” club?

Staying with Mourinho (as if we’ll ever get away from him) and yet another player he had his eye on is Michael Essien but whilst his agent was quick to suggest the midfielder had no intention of following the former Chelsea boss to the San Siro, Real Madrid have now expressed an interest in taking him to the Bernabeu. Unfortunately, if the recent Ronaldo saga is anything to go by, now they’ve got their eye on him it’s unlikely Real will back off quite as easily as Jose seems to have done. Having said that, unless Scolari’s footballing nous suddenly degenerates to the level of my nan’s, it’s a fair bet he’ll appreciate the importance of Essien’s presence in the Chelsea side, whichever part of the pitch it happens to be on any given day. One to keep no doubt.

Finally (if Jose even knows the meaning of the word), the last Chelsea player to be wooed by the new Inter boss, as far as I’m aware, is Ashley Cole. With Mourinho fluttering his eyelashes in the left-back’s direction and the ex-Arsenal man not exactly noted for his commitment to anything but a sizeable contract, he could be harder to keep hold of. But whilst I’ve personally never quite got my head around seeing him playing in a blue shirt, he put in the sort of performances last season to show why he’s regarded as one of the best left-backs in the business. I’m not sure what it would take to keep him if Mourinho’s serious and Inter provide the financial incentive, but I can’t see Scolari letting him near any dodgy Portuguese men in restaurants in the near future.

Maybe if we want to hold onto our key players over the summer then,  Mourinho and Schuster need to be bound and gagged?