The Blues manager has admitted that he wants to have an English core to his Stamford Bridge side, and will be preparing for the retirement of his older home-grown players.
Jose Mourinho has started his second stint at Chelsea with John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole as key figures in his side, and has admitted in a recent interview that he is dedicated to the Blues having an English core.
The west London club have become renowned for splurging money on foreign imports since Roman Abramovich bought the outfit, with young local talent struggling to get first-team football as a result.
Despite this, Mourinho has stated that players such as Terry, Lampard and Cole are key to the team’s success and must be replaced in future years.
“I like that local core, not just in England but when I've worked in Portugal, Spain and Italy," said Mourinho.
"You owe some respect to the country and the national team, so to give some options for them is important. To keep the culture of the country in your own team's style is also very important, and you cannot lose characteristics of the local football.
"I like that loyalty. I also like the fact the foreign players arrive and find a spine in place, a nucleus of local players who can tell them and explain to them where they are, how things work here, the way they have to behave, and even the way they have to play in this league.
“Ideally it's not just about having British players either, but having players who are made in Chelsea. In three or four years' time, if we don't have other Englishmen to replace this nucleus of players – when Lamps is 39, John is 36 – I will be very sad. Every club needs that.”
Mourinho’s comments suggest that the trio, who are out of contract at the end of the season, will be offered new deals. However, in the long run, who will replace them?
Cole’s ever-presence at left-back has stifled opportunities for Ryan Bertrand, who has seen his career plummet in the last 12 months. The versatile wideman has gone from a Champions League winner and England international to a fringe player, but certainly has the ability – he just needs a run of games.
Whether Bertrand is given the chance or Abramovich opts for a big-money foreign signing to replace Cole remains to be seen.
Terry’s long-term successor could well be playing alongside him, as Gary Cahill has been compared to his more-experienced team-mate. The England international has grown in stature at the club, and should see his importance to Chelsea grow as Terry ages.
In midfield, a number of promising talents have the ability to replace Lampard. Josh McEachran was a player that was being touted as having a bright future, but after indifferent loan spells away from the club has seen his stock drop.
Mourinho did make mention of Nathaniel Chalobah in his interview, and the dynamic midfielder certainly looks to have all the attributes to become a star. The youngster needs time on the pitch, and next season could well be brought back into the first-team fold at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s stated dedication to young English talent in his interview is admirable, but whether it is honoured is another thing. Given the pressure to succeed at Chelsea, ready-made foreign imports could still be preferred over promising home-grown stars once the Blues’ current English core retires.
image: © tpower1978