London: Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea manager, yesterday (Friday) stressed that David Luiz was not for sale at any price and bullishly outlined his confidence in the club’s ability to keep their star players amid interest from Barcelona.
Having prised Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas away from Arsenal over the past year, Barcelona are considering a formal £30 million (Dh174.50 million) bid for Luiz before the transfer window closes next Friday.
Chelsea have heard nothing from Barcelona so far this summer and the clear message yesterday from Di Matteo was that they would be wasting their time.
“I don’t feel any pressure in that sense,” said Di Matteo. “This club has been very, very successful in the past and I don’t see why any player should want to leave us to go anywhere else.
“We always compete for trophies, it is a very ambitious club with an ambitious owner. A great group of players that over the years have won a lot but still have the hunger to win more. Competition is hot, we have great facilities, everything.
“David Luiz is part of our long-term future here. It’s normal that he gets interest. It doesn’t concern me. I think the player will be here in the long term.”
A further statement of intent was made yesterday by Chelsea in the £6.5 million signing of Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta. With Victor Moses also undergoing a medical ahead of his £10 million move from Wigan, Chelsea have spent £80 million this summer and almost £100 million on transfer fees during 2012.
Even with only Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge competing to start as the main central striker, Di Matteo does not expect any further transfer activity at Stamford Bridge this summer, whether incoming or outgoing.
In pointing out that he has only started with one new signing — Eden Hazard — in the opening two Premier League games, Di Matteo also argued that recent spending was geared towards the long-term evolution of the team.
“I’m happy with the way the squad is,” said Di Matteo. “If you look at the profile of the players that come in you are looking at players who will be here for the next four or five years.
“They are all very young players. You are looking for them to be the platform for the future of this club. I don’t expect a revolution or anything like that. It’s a slow process to try and get the players into the team and try and build a team for the future. You are looking at investment in the next cycle for four or five years.”
The main focus has been to improve their midfield creativity and so provide Di Matteo with the personnel to introduce a more fluid, passing style of football. The arrival of Azpilicueta, who trained with the squad yesterday, will enhance their defensive options and potentially allow Branislav Ivanovic, who has been starting at right-back, to compete for a place in central defence.
Di Matteo regards Manchester City and Manchester United as the clear favourites this season.
An improvement on last year’s inconsistency is Di Matteo’s relatively modest aim in the Premier League, publicly at least. “We need to make up 25 points and I don’t think any team has done that in the history of the Premier League,” Di Matteo said. “City haven’t lost any key players. United had the same points and they have signed Robin van Persie. They are still the two teams you need to beat.”