Jose Mourinho angered by airing of striker criticism

‘The problem at Chelsea is that we are missing a striker. I have one in (Samuel) Eto’o but he is 32, possibly 35, who knows?’


Jose Mourinho has reacted angrily after reports emerged in France of the Chelsea manager making disparaging remarks, delivered in what he apparently considered to be a private conversation, over the quality of the forwards at his disposal.

The comments were made this month but reported as he and his squad flew out to Turkey for the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie against Galatasaray. Chelsea will come face to face with their former striker Didier Drogba at the Turk Telekomm arena on Wednesday and while that promises to be an emotional reunion, Mourinho has been left to rebuild bridges with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba after Canal Plus published a video on its website of him assessing the current crop.

While Chelsea do not deny the authenticity of the quotes, they have stressed that the manager was unaware he was being filmed and was instead conducting what he believed to be a private and light-hearted conversation with the head of Hublot watches at a sponsors’ event. Mourinho, who has been left embarrassed and exasperated that footage of the exchange has since been published online, is heard to say: “The problem with Chelsea is we lack a scorer. I have one (Eto’o]but he’s 32. Maybe 35, who knows?”

The conversation went on to address the possible availability of the Monaco forward Radamel Falcao, a player in whom Chelsea have long been interested but, given a value in excess of €60 million and a colossal associated wage package, is now effectively out of their market, with the London club intent upon complying with Uefa financial fair play regulations. “I don’t have Falcao but Falcao doesn’t have a team,” said Mourinho. “Who wants to play in front of 3,000 supporters? If I was one day to go to Monaco it would be at the end (of my career).”

Canal Plus was waiting to conduct an on-the-record interview with the manager, with other topics later discussed to camera, including a section about the much coveted Paris St-Germain forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. “It’s impossible,” said Mourinho when asked about the Sweden striker potentially moving to Stamford Bridge in the future. “He’s happy in Paris. I know because he’s my friend and we’re in touch. PSG with all its wealth would never open the door. That’s mission impossible.”

The interest in Cavani was discussed in the context of a mooted swap deal, reported in France last month, involving Eden Hazard. “Eden is our boy,” added Mourinho. “We want him to stay for 10 years. We want to build the team around him. He is a player with the style of football we want to have in our team.”

The comments were particularly untimely, given Chelsea must continue to rely upon Eto’o, Ba and Torres – a €60m World Cup winner – as they pursue the Premier League and Champions League trophies this term. That trio have not been prolific, albeit Torres and Eto’o have enjoyed brief flurries of goalscoring form, and Mourinho has already made it known he intends to reinforce up front at the end of the campaign. Eto’o, a three-time European Cup winner, is out of contract in the summer and has attracted interest from clubs in Major League Soccer, while Ba, a €8.5m signing from Newcastle 13 months ago, is also expected to move on.

Drogba, too, could move to the US at the end of the season, with Galatasaray unlikely to offer the 35-year-old a new deal. Seattle Sounders have been earmarked as a possible destination, while New York Red Bulls – who have also been heavily linked with Eto’o – could also compete for his signature.

Chelsea travelled to Turkey with a trio of Brazilian players carrying minor injuries. David Luiz has a groin problem, Ramires has a niggle in his knee and Oscar has a slight muscular complaint in a leg that necessitated his withdrawal in the second half of Saturday’s narrow victory over Everton.

Guardian Service

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