Chelsea latest: Including Basel team news and Lampard contract claim

A round-up of news and views relating to Chelsea over the past 24 hours.

Rafa Benitez has said he intends to play his strongest side tomorrow night, despite crucial Premier League matches against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur coming up. Chelsea have a 2-1 lead over Basel from the first leg thanks to David Luiz’s late winner. Ashley Cole misses the match through suspension, whilst Demba Ba is ineligible.

Jose Mourinho has given the clearest indication yet that he is set to return to England this summer, with Chelsea his presumed destination. Following Real Madrid’s Champions League exit at the hands of Borussia Dortmund he said he will return to where he is loved, indicating there was one club in particular he was considering.

Branislav Ivanovic has suggested that Chelsea’s players would be delighted to see Mourinho return, saying that although they have no knowledge that the Portuguese manager has agreed a deal, everyone at the club respects his ability.

Ivanovic also told a Serbian newspaper that he has accepted Luis Suarez’ apology after being bitten by the Uruguayan in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at Anfield in April. Suarez was subsequently banned for ten games by the FA.

Chelsea are apparently ready to offer midfielder Frank Lampard a new deal. The 34 year old was set to leave the Blues this summer, but his performances this season, along with the possible return of Mourinho, has led to a rethink on the club’s part, with a one year deal rumoured to be in the offing.

Michael Essien has insisted that he will be able to get back into Chelsea’s first team next season when he returns from his loan spell at Real Madrid. Essien still has two years left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, and believes his performances in Spain this summer have shown he has the ability play at the highest level.

On HIT today, we look at what role Avram Grant could play in helping Chelsea sign Lazar Markovic, and assess the evidence linking Mourinho with a return to Chelsea. We also ask who from Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas would have more luck in signing players from Porto if both were in the Premier League, and look at the rumours suggesting Lampard will be offered a new deal at the Blues.

Chelsea’s current manager, Rafa Benitez, might be a target for PSG this summer, completing a managerial merry-go-round that could see Carlo Ancelotti on his way to Real Madrid to replace Mourinho.

image: © wonker

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