Speaking ahead of his first taste of FA Cup action since winning the trophy in 2007, Jose Mourinho reiterated his desire to keep Juan Mata at the club, while again ruling out a move for a striker this month.
With the transfer window now open, the journalists present at the Friday afternoon media conference were understandably keen to find out if our manager would be engaging in any transfer activity in the coming weeks, with the Portuguese commenting on a few suggested deals.
Mourinho also declared his passion for the FA Cup and his admiration for Derby’s boss Steve McClaren, ahead of a third round tie he will select a strong side for.
First up, though, was a question about Gonzalo Higuain, amid media rumours of Chelsea interest in the Napoli striker. Mourinho insisted there had been no bid for the Argentinean, nor would there be for any striker this month.
‘Higuain’s a player I know we cannot get,’ said Mourinho.
‘Napoli is a club that normally doesn’t sell. They want to win the Scudetto and the Europa League so I don’t believe they are interested in selling Higuain, so why should we be interested in somebody we feel is impossible?’
The future of Juan Mata was again brought up, as it was after the game against Southampton on Wednesday, with the manager’s opinion unchanged.
‘I keep saying I want him to stay. There have been no offers. Today he trained in a fantastic way so I think he focused more on [when I said] “I don’t want him to leave” and not on when I said “the door is always open”.
‘He’s moved on. He was happy with the victory at Southampton so today he trained in a fantastic way. There are no problems.’
A final transfer topic centred on Kevin De Bruyne, with the manager confirming that clubs had contacted Chelsea enquiring about the Belgian’s availability.
‘We know Kevin didn’t adapt very well to the difficult life a Chelsea player has. People like Oscar, Mata, Willian and Eden have a beautiful, difficult life at Chelsea. To play they have to pay a big price – they have to give a lot and they work a lot and accept this competitiveness.
‘Kevin is a different personality. He is a fantastic player with fantastic potential, but it’s a bit difficult to adapt to this situation. We know he fancies a move, he is a fantastic player and they are very expensive.
‘I don’t want him to leave. We have had a couple of contacts – made not by us, because we don’t want to sell – but made by other clubs. If people think they can get our good players in the sales, the sales in London finished yesterday.’
With key transfer rumours addressed, the press’s attention turned to Sunday’s game against Derby in a competition that the Portuguese made clear was very close to his heart.
‘The FA Cup has a special feeling, a special meaning. I was lucky to win lots of trophies but to win the FA Cup at Wembley and feel what it means was one of my high moments in my career. I have a good feeling for the competition and the good things this country has in terms of football, we have to keep them.
‘I am happy to play against Steve and happy to see him back. I am happy for his success in Holland. With full respect for the Championship where there are very good managers, I think Steve belongs to a different level, so hopefully he is back to the Premier League soon.’
Mourinho backed up the seriousness with which he takes the competition by confirming he will start the best possible team to try to win the game, aiming to keep the momentum going following our recent impressive performances in the Premier League. The manager also said that Ryan Bertrand is fit again after a knee problem, and only missed out on a place on the bench at St Mary’s because of Tomas Kalas’s versality.
With the halfway point of the season now passed, Mourinho finished by taking stock, in response to a question about what the club’s supporters should expect from his current group of players.
‘The fans have had an enjoyable decade, enjoying the team they have had for the past 10 years, a team with a structure and a spine of the same players, season after season.
‘They have had ups and downs, but lots of ups and good moments. They know we are building a new team, still with some faces from the previous decade, for another period of seven or eight years. The fans know our nature doesn’t stop us fighting for the titles.
‘We are preparing for the future but competing in the present. We are going to fight in every game and try to win every game in every competition. We are favourites for nothing but to be favourites for the next game is our philosophy.
‘We know what we have, we know where we are and we know what we need for the future.’
– You can see a clip of Jose Mourinho speaking at the top of this story, with the full press conference now available to view on the Chelsea TV page.