• Premier League

Di Matteo may not replace Drogba at Chelsea

ESPN staff
July 4, 2012

Roberto Di Matteo says Chelsea will continue to "monitor the market" but indicated that the club may not bring in a replacement for Didier Drogba.

The Blues finally ended their long wait for Champions League glory last season, but owner Roman Abramovich has appeared determined to overhaul the team to lay the foundations for a new, more attractive, style of play.

The revolution was due to begin under Andre Villas-Boas last summer, when the likes of Juan Mata and Oriol Romeu were introduced to the squad, and Abramovich has funded the acquisitions of Marko Marin and Eden Hazard this summer.

Di Matteo, who has been installed as the club's permanent manager after securing FA Cup and Champions League success in an interim role last season, believes the new signings will make a major impact.

"Hazard's a wonderful player," he told a press conference on Wednesday. "For his young age he has achieved a lot - he has already been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year - but we shouldn't forget he is still young, but he will bring a lot of creativity to the side.

"Marin is another exciting player. He's an offensive attacking midfielder/winger who can play in various positions, which is helpful to the team and myself, and he is another one we will be looking to integrate into the side."

Given that Drogba has now departed, it had been expected that Chelsea would tie up the signing of Porto forward Hulk to strengthen the attack, but Di Matteo appears happy with the options at his disposal.

"Didier was an outstanding player for the club who achieved a lot of success, but we have to move on," he said. "He's not here anymore and the players will rise to the occasion and fill in. It's a team sport, we have Fernando [Torres], [Daniel] Sturridge and [Romelu] Lukaku, so we have enough quality."

Di Matteo did suggest that other areas of the squad could be enhanced, though, with speculation mounting that they are on the verge of tying up the signing of Inter Milan right-back Maicon.

"I'm pretty happy with the squad but we'll monitor the market and see what opportunities there are to improve the team," he said. "It's not just a question of how much you spend but attracting the right players."

There has already been a significant clear-out at the club in 2012 - Nicolas Anelka and Alex left in January, while Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa have all been released this summer - and there is speculation that Florent Malouda and Yossi Benayoun will also move on.

Di Matteo, though, suggested that duo may yet have a future at Stamford Bridge. "They are part of the squad and contracted to the club," he said. "I expect everybody to be here at the start of the season and then we'll see what happens."

Frank Lampard had also been linked with a move away, with LA Galaxy touted as a likely destination, but Di Matteo indicated that the England midfielder, who was ruled out of Euro 2012 through injury, was part of his plans.

"I've spoken to Frank," he said. "He's feeling very good and is looking forward to returning for the new season."

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