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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
Mourinho sharpens the knife
Chelsea's new manager Jose Mourinho has indicated that he wants to work with a streamlined squad of just 24 players next season.

That means as many as 14 current Blues players - including several big names - could have their egos severely bruised before the summer is out.

Juan Veron's loan switch to Inter Milan is proof Mourinho means business.

Here, BBC Sport examines which players are likely to face, or escape the cull at Stamford Bridge this summer.


ON YOUR BIKE

Mourinho's clear-out can begin with the departure of Emmanuel Petit, Winston Bogarde and Mario Melchiot, who are all out of contract.

But if he wants to move any of his other well-paid stars out, the Blues boss will have to find other clubs willing to take on their wages - either in permanent or loan deals.

MOURINHO'S POSSIBLE SQUAD
Goalkeepers
Petr Cech
Carlo Cudicini
Marco Ambrosio
Defenders
Wayne Bridge
John Terry
William Gallas
Robert Huth
Glen Johnson
Celestine Babayaro
New right-back
New centre-back
Midfielders:
Frank Lampard
Scott Parker
Arjen Robben
Damien Duff
Claude Makelele
Joe Cole
Geremi
New midfielder
New midfielder
Strikers:
Eidur Gudjohnsen
Adrian Mutu
Hernan Crespo
New striker
Striker Mikael Forssell has already agreed a new one-year loan at Birmingham, who are also hoping to sign Dane Jesper Gronkjaer.

Middlesbrough are keen to keep midfielder Boudewijn Zenden after his loan last season, and striker Carlton Cole could stay at Charlton for another year.

Young centre-back Robert Huth and midfielders Felipe Oliveira and Alexis Nicolas also look ripe for loan deals.

The prospects of a squad place for Russian Alexei Smertin, who was sent straight out on loan to Portsmouth last season, look bleak, and Mario Stanic is almost certain to leave.

Mourinho is likely to trim his goalkeeping staff to three, which would leave Marco Ambrosio, Neil Sullivan, Jurgen Macho and Yves Makabu-Makalambay vying for one squad place.

THE BIG DECISIONS

It would be a major surprise if Mourinho does not use the untold millions at his disposal to embellish his squad with some new signings.

Strikers Didier Drogba (Marseille), Fernando Morientes (Real Madrid) and David Trezeguet (Juventus) have all been mentioned as possible targets.

Eidur Gudjohnsen would appear to be the only striker at Stamford Bridge whose place is safe.

Marcel Desailly
Club captain Desailly could be a high-profile departure
Adrian Mutu faded after a strong start to last season and Hernan Crespo was hampered by injuries.

But Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink looks most likely to go.

With 15 midfielders at his disposal, Mourinho faces some hard choices.

Juan Sebastian Veron has already gone, and Claude Makelele and Geremi (who along with Veron cost 38m in total last summer) cannot be sure of staying.

Porto's holding midfielder Costinha and playmaker Deco have both been mentioned as targets for their former boss.

In defence, Marcel Desailly's star is fading and left-back Celestine Babayaro could also be vulnerable.

Deportivo La Coruna's Jorge Andrade is a possible replacement at centre-back, and Mourinho looks set to make Porto right-back Paulo Ferreira his first signing.

SAFE AS HOUSES

It seems inconceivable that Mourinho would decide to dispense with the English core of his squad.

The Euro 2004-bound trio of Frank Lampard, John Terry and Wayne Bridge were key players last season, and Scott Parker and Glen Johnson also impressed.

Joe Cole failed to hold down a regular place last season, but his age should count in his favour.

Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff is a star man when fit, and centre-back William Gallas and striker Eidur Gudjohnsen look safe too.

Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech was signed from Rennes under Claudio Ranieri's reign, but should compete with Carlo Cudicini for the number one jersey.

Mourinho also had no say in the signing of Arjen Robben from PSV Eindhoven, but the Dutch winger is highly rated.





SEE ALSO
Veron joins Inter on loan
03 Jun 04  |  Chelsea



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