José Mourinho wins early Chelsea battle to keep Romelu Lukaku

José Mourinho will seek to present a more cerebral front at the conference to mark the beginning of his second managerial spell at Chelsea on Monday lunchtime.

But the fireworks continued to explode behind him, with Andrés Iniesta, the Barcelona midfielder, saying that the Portuguese had "damaged Spanish football".

Mourinho's three-year tenure at Real Madrid, which ended last season, was as synonymous with confrontation as it was for high points on the field – his team interrupted Barcelona's dominance to win La Liga in 2011-12 – and Iniesta suggested he is far from sorry to see Mourinho depart for the Premier League.

"You have to look at the facts," Iniesta said. "Yes, he damaged Spanish football … in general, more harm than good. But I don't like talking about that person at all. So if you don't mind, we'll leave it at that."

Mourinho claims he has matured and it is difficult to foresee a repeat of his outspoken Special One unveiling from 2004, when he takes his seat in front of the cameras at Stamford Bridge's Harris Suite at 1.30pm.

One of his messages has been the need for evolution; that revolution is too strong a notion, as he has inherited a squad of tremendous quality. He is keen to promote from within and to assess the claims of the players that have been out on loan.

He is determined to retain Romelu Lukaku, who spent last season at West Bromwich Albion, and he appears to have won an early battle, with the Belgium striker saying he would "play for Chelsea next season". Lukaku does not want to be a bit-part player in a campaign he hopes will end with a successful appearance at the World Cup finals in Brazil. "I had a chat with José and he'll put me in his squad," Lukaku said.

Mourinho, though, is in the market to strengthen as he has noted with alarm how Chelsea have struggled in the Premier League for the past two seasons. He wants to upgrade his options up front, with Napoli's Edinson Cavani at the forefront of his thinking. Chelsea have opened talks with the Italian club over the Uruguayan, who has a €63m buy-out clause.

Chelsea also hope to take Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina and André Schürrle from Bayer Leverkusen. In central defence, Porto's Eliaquim Mangala is a target.

Powered by article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Sunday 9th June 2013 16.59 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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