Benitez welcomes Chelsea evolution

Rafael Benitez has spoken of the natural evolution underway at Chelsea, a process including the departure of the club’s elder statesmen that has seen Didier Drogba leave the club with Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole expected to follow suit at the end of this season, the Daily Mirror has reported.

Benitez, appointed as Chelsea’s interim manager in succession to Roberto Di Matteo in November 2012, praised the contribution of the likes of Drogba, Lampard and Cole but insisted it was inevitable that those players would be replaced by younger rivals. The manager specifically pointed to Eden Hazard, Oscar, Lucas Piazon and Marko Marin as Chelsea players to watch for the future, and suggested they would be joined by more youthful signings soon.

It’s always easy to talk about the legends, and you have to have a lot of respect for them. What they’ve achieved for this club has been fantastic. But you have to see new players coming. It’s part of life,” Benitez said.

Benitez added that having a conveyor belt of players snapping at your heels will provide motivation for the old guard to keep up their high standards. “If you want to keep winning, to have the winning mentality, you need the new generation pushing you,” the former Liverpool manager noted.

Chelsea play the first leg of their League Cup semi-final against Premier League rivals Swansea City on Wednesday evening, the match taking place at Stamford Bridge with the winners playing either Aston Villa or Bradford City. The League Two side hold a 3-1 advantage from the first leg, played on Tuesday.

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