Jose Mourinho has denied reports that he plans to register a bid for Roma's Mehdi Benatia, indicating Chelsea possess enough defensive strength to progress without dropping a major fee on the Moroccan centre-back.
Numerous outlets claimed Mourinho is set to land the player for around £30 million, per David Woods of the Daily Star.
The Portuguese boss denied any such intentions after his side's 2-0 win over Real Sociedad on Tuesday night. Mourinho categorically stated to reporters that he isn't interested in Benatia during his post-match press conference, in quotes recorded by B/R UK's Garry Hayes at Stamford Bridge:
No. We are not interested (in Benatia). We have John (Terry), (Gary) Cahill, (Branislav) Ivanovic, (Kurt) Zouma, and we want to make (Andreas) Christensen, step by step, training with us, every day, playing a few minutes when it is possible, playing with the Under-21s and training with us as a first-team squad member. We are fine.
Chelsea have also pushed Tomas Kalas out on loan, perhaps a surprising move after he was trusted with a place in the starting lineup during last season's Anfield win over Liverpool. Benatia's qualities would likely see Kalas exit permanently if he was to arrive, especially as he has the natural game to succeed in the Premier League, per Matteo Bonetti of beIN Sports:
Mourinho's squad is bustling with talent across the board, with most players facing a battle against their colleagues to hold down a run in the first team.
This is most apparent when considering the club's goalkeeping options. Both Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois are capable of dominating between the sticks, but more pressingly, both will expect to be given the starting nod.
Mourinho has provided each of his goalkeepers time to impress and regain fitness during pre-season, but he is yet to publicly announce who will start during Monday's trip to Burnley. He responded indirectly when asked if he knew who the No. 1 would be, reported by B/R UK from the aforementioned post-match presser:
Yes (No. 1 is known). Courtois played 90 minutes because he was injured and did not play in the last weekend. Petr played the two matches in Turkey, (Mark) Schwarzer played the second half against Ferencvaros. Courtois since he arrived only played 45 minutes against Werder Bremen. He needs to play, I want to give minutes to everybody.
The players don’t know and they have to know before you. I know.
Whoever proves to take Mourinho's fancy, the Blues are more than stacked to challenge across four competitions this season. Chelsea have two world-class keeping options, as well as a true professional in Mark Schwarzer.
Similar to competition at centre-back, Mourinho's choices will be dictated by personal preference and upcoming opponents, rather than there being a particular weakness with any of his stars. It's a terrific situation to be in at this stage of pre-season, when other clubs are scrambling to try and improve their prospects for the coming campaign.
Mourinho has sold excellently—defined by the £50 million gathered for David Luiz—and spent wisely. Both Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have dominated during the summer, contributing goals, assists and plenty of enticing play. Mourinho doesn't need to flirt with UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules by adding another high-profile signing, especially when Chelsea's quality is defined already.
In terms of squad depth, only Manchester City can be considered on Chelsea's level in the Premier League. That said, Manuel Pellegrini's summer signings aim to consolidate City's power rather than dramatically improve their bid for the domestic title. Mourinho's captures have been cherry-picked to land Chelsea's first Premier League crown since 2009-10.
While Benatia will most likely be overlooked, Mourinho should be more than optimistic of returning the West London side back to England's footballing throne.
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