Jose Mourinho has talked up the importance of Didier Drogba and claimed Chelsea will "need" him next season.
Drogba, 36, has returned to Stamford Bridge on a one-year contract and although he is only expected to play a peripheral role for the club Mourinho insists he has a big role to play.
He said: "First of all when he came, it looks like he never left the club. It was so normal, nothing new at all, because he knows everybody and everybody knows him.
"He was ever present even when he wasn't here. Chelsea belonged to him, even in the last two years when he was away playing in a Galatasaray and Shanghai shirt.
"So it looks like he just went for a short holiday and came back, so everything is normal. But yes, I think we need him. We need him as a player for our squad to be the way I like.
"I like my squad with different qualities, not just as football players but also in terms of personalities. I like to have players with different personalities.
"So as a player and person, Didier is somebody we need to be strong."
Mourinho, speaking after the 2-1 preseason win against NK Olimpija Ljubljana, played down the importance of summer signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa linking up for the Spain international's first goal in Chelsea colours.
He said: "Obviously it's nice for a striker to score in his first game. It's nice, no more than that. For Cesc, it's also important to understand the team, which he is doing step by step.
"It's still important for us to have all our players back. We don't have [Andre] Schurrle, Oscar, Willian or [Eden] Hazard and they are the four players we build the game around. At the same time they need a holiday, but the players who are here on this training camp are working very hard."
The Portuguese coach also appeared to make another subtle remark aimed at Manchester United by claiming he would prefer his side to be tested against worthy opposition than to win games by a large margin, as United did when they beat LA Galaxy 7-0 in Louis van Gaal's first game in charge.
Mourinho has already provoked Van Gaal after questioning the wages United are paying Luke Shaw.
He said: "We are training a minimum of three hours every day at a high intensity, the players are tired but we need to compete even in these tough conditions. They gave us difficulties, they were aggressive, fast. They had ambition, young players who tried to impress. We don't need matches where we win 5-0 or 8-0, we need difficult matches.
"It was good for us because we try to play against teams in better condition than we are. We played against a team in Austria [WAC RZ Pellets] who have already started their league and today we played against Olimpija, who have been training for a long time.
"Winning or not winning is not the most important thing at this moment, the most important thing is to compete, so I thank the coach and players from Olimpija because they gave us the type of match we needed."
Mourinho has clear plans for Chelsea's young talent, with Andreas Christensen and Nathan Ake due to be introduced into the first-team squad next season while a number of others, including Patrick Bamford, John Swift, Nathaniel Chalobah will be loaned out.
"We are going to have Christensen and Ake, who are coming from the Academy," he said. "We are going to have training with us, but also playing for the under-21 team, [Dominic] Solanke, [Jeremie] Boga and [Izzy] Brown.
"The other ones who are a bit older, 20 or 21, we feel they need to compete against men in a different league, people like Patrick Bamford, John Swift, Nathaniel Chalobah. They are ready to go to other clubs and have a good loan.
"What we are trying to do, and we believe we are going to be successful, is in a few years' time, when they are between 20 and 23, we will have them back at the right moment and in the first-team squad."