With Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea expected to be imminent, attention will immediately turn to how the Portuguese boss chooses to tinker with the squad at his disposal.
The England left-back, who recently passed 100 caps for his country, remains one of the world’s most respected full-backs. But at 32, Cole is nearing the twilight of his career and it seems likely that Mourinho may choose to give him more rests next year – in the same manner that John Terry and Frank Lampard were handled by interim manager Rafael Benitez last season.
As a result, Mourinho is keen to bring in high-quality competition to challenge the former Arsenal defender, with Fabio Coentrao reported to be top of his wish list. The Portuguese left-sided player was first brought to Santiago Bernabeu by Mourinho two years ago and has since been regularly involved for the Spanish giants, ousting Marcelo as the club’s preferred starter.
The Brazilian wing-back broke his foot last season which may have forced Mourinho’s hand somewhat, but nevertheless Coentrao seems to be a favourite of the soon-to-be Blues manager. With Real seemingly not close to finding a new coach, Coentrao may choose to escape from the uncertainty in the circus of the Bernabeu and follow his compatriot to Stamford Bridge.
But Coentrao would not come cheap. It’s estimated that his signature will cost upwards of £20m and while that price may not make Roman Abramovich’s eyes particularly water, he may question the need to bring in more cover for Cole when Ryan Bertrand waits in the wings.
The Chelsea squad is well stocked in most other areas though, meaning Mourinho won’t have to splash the cash too much in the summer months. If his summer spending comes to around £30m in total, the ex-Benfica man’s arrival should be seen as something of a bargain in the medium term.
Elsewhere, the Blues look set to utilise Romelu Lukaku this season having loaned the Belgian striker to West Brom in the last campaign. He enjoyed an excellent season at The Hawthorns and Mourinho is allegedly keen to involve him in the first team this season rather than send him out on loan again, with Demba Ba and Fernando Torres remaining Chelsea’s only two out and out front men.
The return of Mourinho is likely to bring about evolution and not spark revolution as in his first spell at the club. With the core of the team looking strong, one or two signings – coupled with the return of the ‘Special One’ – could be enough to edge Chelsea closer to a title challenge.
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