Expectations are high at Stamford Bridge in anticipation for the 2013-14 English Premier League season.
Jose Mourinho's return as Chelsea's manager has upped the stakes for a side that finished third in the EPL table last season. The Blues qualified for next season's Champions League tournament based on that finish and will rely on "The Special One" to help return the current lineup to its former glory.
Mourinho has been no stranger to transfer rumours so far this summer and has already confirmed the signings of several new players eager to compete for a starting job next season.
Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer highlight Mourinho's early transfer moves. As the club continues to prepare for the upcoming season with a tour of Asia, transfer business is still at the forefront of any conversation concerning Chelsea.
The Blues made another transfer move on Tuesday, announcing the signing of Chilean star Cristian Cuevas. The club's official website had the news.
The 18-year-old moved swiftly through the youth ranks at Chilean club O'Higgins and starred at left-back for Chile at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup this summer. Chelsea noticed and rewarded Cuevas with an opportunity to contribute to an English football club as a teenager next season.
Elsewhere, rumours surrounding Chelsea's next move continue to percolate. We've got the latest roundup of those rumors below.
Latest on Wayne Rooney
The Wayne Rooney saga will continue to grab headlines, and if you listen to Mourinho, it could continue to do so until August.
According to Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph, Mourinho warned interested parties on Tuesday that completing any major deal could require patience on all fronts.
That being said, it's clear that Rooney is a target Mourinho feels is worth holding out for. Speaking after Chelsea's 1-0 win over Thailand All-Stars last Wednesday, Mourinho confirmed that Chelsea will focus the entirety of their transfer efforts toward nabbing Rooney away from Manchester United.
Goal.com's Gill Clark was in Bangkok last week with a full report on Mourinho's comments concerning a potential Rooney transfer.
Nearly a week later, there's still no clear indication that Rooney will have a chance to leave Old Trafford before the upcoming season begins.
Mourinho has not been shy over his affection for Rooney. As you can see in this tweet from Sam Wallace of The Independent, Mourinho is now publicly urging United to consider the ramifications of holding on to Rooney until the last possible second.
Although Mourinho's comments won't force United to make a decision, they do shed some light on the reality of what the Red Devils are facing when it comes to making plans on the Rooney front.
New boss David Moyes reiterated on Tuesday that Rooney was not for sale. Sky Sports reported that United expect the 27-year-old to return to the lineup in Sweden in August against AIK Solna, and had Moyes' comments about United's unwavering commitment to denying any and all rumours about their intention to sell Rooney.
As noted by ESPN's Richard Jolly, injuries to Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck have further clouded United's desire to sell the disgruntled forward.
Although Moyes does not expect van Persie or Welbeck to miss extended time, the injuries have likely reminded United management that depth could be thin without Rooney next season. Michael Carrick is also dealing with a groin problem during United's current preseason tour.
Mourinho expects the Rooney saga to continue until August, and I'm right there with him. United continue to shuck rumours that Rooney is headed anywhere, but that won't stop Chelsea—and other clubs—from poking and prodding United in hopes that the EPL champs crack.
Juan Mata Getting Extension?
As Chelsea stays on the hunt for Rooney, Mata's status is still up in the air. The 25-year-old Spaniard was one of four players to post double-digit goal and assist numbers during the 2012-13 season, and Mourinho could do worse as he builds his new lineup for the upcoming season.
Mata and David Luiz were mentioned as a possible throw-in piece in a Rooney transfer bid. Greg Stobart of Goal.com noted that Chelsea denied offering any player in exchange for Rooney, but adding Rooney for £10 million without surrendering any talent in return isn't exactly the haul the Red Devils would seek for their star.
That being said, rumours have started to surface that Chelsea are taking steps toward keeping the international and league star around for years to come.
According to Metro's Hannah Duncan, Chelsea are seeking to lock Mata up through 2018 with a deal that would increase his weekly wages from their current rate of £70,000 to a new one £100,000.
Per Duncan's report, Mata has been mentioned as a potential transfer target for Barcelona. The conflicting reports about his inclusion in a deal for Rooney have done nothing to cement his status at Stamford Bridge; however, he's clearly a fan favorite and a piece Mourinho would like to build around moving forward.
Since arriving from Valencia, Mata has been the club's Player of the Year in consecutive seasons.
Drogba Reuniting With Mourinho?
Didier Drogba and Mourinho are synonymous with Chelsea football. The former moved to Galatasaray prior to the 2012-13 season, but new reports have surfaced linking the 35-year-old to a return to Stamford Bridge.
According to Tony Banks of Express, Mourinho is desperate for Drogba to return to the Blues as both a player and a coach.
Mourinho reportedly feels that Drogba can still contribute on the pitch but is more interested in bringing the star forward on board as a coach to mentor his younger players.
A source close to Drogba had this to say in Banks' report:
Mourinho wants Didier on his coaching staff and will help him get his badges, but he also wants him to guide his young strikers. He believes that Didier’s experience could really help them.
Galatasaray will apparently not let Drogba out of his contract before it runs out next season; however, plans are reportedly already being made for the Ivory Coast star to return for his ninth season with Chelsea in the future.
Transfer chatter concerning Chelsea has been largely centered around Rooney in recent days, and that's a trend you can expect to see until he officially plays in an EPL match next season.
It remains to be seen whether Mourinho's all-in strategy on Rooney will pay off, or if United will stand firm in their current approach to keeping the striker at Old Trafford at all costs.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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