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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 21, 2006

Mourinho keen to trim Chelsea squad

Jose Mourinho has revealed the fear of losing any more of Chelsea's stars has prompted him to trim his squad.

Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge with the policy of having two players for every position but last summer's departure of Tiago and the likely exit of Damien Duff has changed his thinking.

The Chelsea boss was reluctant to sell Tiago to Lyon while he is consigned to losing Duff to Tottenham - both victims of the Barclays Premiership champions' large squad.

And to prevent any more unwanted transfers, Mourinho is ready to use a core group of 20 adaptable players in a bid to keep everybody happy.

'I had a situation last season where I lost Tiago, a player I like very much, because he was afraid of not having enough chances to play at Chelsea,' he said.

'Now there is a chance I could lose Damien Duff, another player I like. Why? Because he's afraid he won't get as many matches as he wants.

'The reality is when you have a squad of such high quality and high numbers, some players find it difficult. Players want to play.

'People look at footballers as people who are focused on money. This is not true. More important to them is to play football.

'They can leave a big team like Chelsea and will be ready to lose money in relation to their contracts because they want to play football.

'The way to deal with this is to have a small squad where everybody feels they will play matches.

'After Lassana Diarra played four or five first-team matches and played in the European Under-21 competition, he had a lot of clubs wanting to buy him.

'It was only possible to tell him he would play if he stayed by having a smaller squad. The squad is top quality but short on numbers.

'In this manner young players won't be afraid to come to Chelsea and I can keep everybody happy.

'I want multi-functional players. We have five or six players who can easily adapt to different positions. It's a 20-man squad but with more alternatives for each position.'

Mourinho's change of approach does not extend to left-back, however, where the Portuguese manager is determined to have two options.

Wayne Bridge has ended his loan spell at Fulham and will be staying at Stamford Bridge but a vacancy will open up when Asier del Horno returns to Spain, with Valencia leading the chase.

Ashley Cole is the hot favourite to be installed as Del Horno's replacement but Mourinho will not comment on mounting speculation the Arsenal defender will join next week.

'It's true that possibly we need a left-back. Del Horno would prefer a move and we are trying to help,' he said.

'But we must protect Chelsea's position on the business side. If he goes back to Spain we need a good left-back.

'I don't want to say Ashley Cole is the best because in European football there are five or six very good left-backs.

'Cole is an Arsenal player and it's not correct to talk about him. The transfer window is open and for sure we'll have two left-backs.

'One is Wayne Bridge and maybe Del Horno can be the other one.'