Known as much for his outspoken nature and controversial views as he is for his vast success within football, few expected Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea to materialise with little fuss.
And Stamford Bridge fireworks could be set to fly upon his return to English football, as the ex-Real Madrid chief looks to overhaul a defence hugely popular with the Blues faithful.
Firstly, Mourinho is ready to test his former club Porto’s resolve for central defender Eliaquim Mangala, despite an unwillingness to meet the Frenchman’s £30m buy-out clause.
A France under-21 international, Mangala cost the Dragons only £5m from Standard Liege two years ago, but his value has rocketed since then, and a call-up to the full French squad appears imminent.
And although he joined Porto for a low fee, Mourinho is aware that he will have to part with significant cash in order to land the imposing 22-year-old.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich knows better than most that the reigning Portuguese champions drive a hard bargain, having spent just shy of £50m on three players from the club during his decade-long ownership of the Blues.
And as such, Abramovich could get on board with Mourinho’s reported notion that David Luiz is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, amidst the latter’s belief that the former Benfica man is unreliable in a central defensive role.
A fan favourite amongst Blues fans, Luiz’ form picked up in the latter half of this season, but he was most often utilised in a deep-lying midfield capacity during this time.
Barcelona are monitoring the flamboyant Brazilian’s situation, and Mourinho could get as much as £35m to bolster his transfer kitty from the sale of the 26-year-old.
Meanwhile, the small matter of John Terry’s future is also to become a point of contention, with the club captain’s £150,000-per-week deal having only a year left to run.
Chelsea have loosened their policy on not offering new contracts to players over 30 recently by tying Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard to fresh terms, but Mourinho is likely to make the ultimate decision on Terry’s future.
With his appearances becoming far more sporadic over the past season, there is reason to suggest the 32-year-old’s Stamford Bridge days could be numbered, should he fail to prove his fitness and form in the early stages of next term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.