Frank Arnesen, speaking for the first time since he took over as director of youth development and scouting at Stamford Bridge in September following his controversial switch from Tottenham, has spelled out the ample extent of the new scheme which marks the second part of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's plan for world domination.
"When Roman came to the club, he wanted as quickly as possible to get to a certain level in England, that of Manchester and Liverpool, so he invested a lot of money," said Arnesen, who is reported to have tripled his salary to a level approaching £2 million.
"But his plan, he told me, was always to take the next step which is to create an organisation which can get players to Chelsea before they are so expensive. That's why I'm here. It has to be a combination [of] players that me and my staff have brought in. It's a plan that was very well thought through. It's a football club that wants to be the best in the world."
The 49-year-old Dane, who followed a successful playing career in Netherlands by discovering a succession of young talents such as Ronaldo, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Arjen Robben while general manager of PSV Eindhoven, made it clear that Chelsea would seek talented youngsters in every part of the globe. But he added that there would always be a preference for signing home-grown players such as the club captain John Terry.
"Most of the recruitment will be here," he said. "On Friday I went up to watch England Under-16 against Wales, 4-0. I'm watching everything I think is important. If we get tips, we send people out, I go out as well. I have always liked foreign players. I was one myself. But also the culture of the club and country is very important. England and the United Kingdom is my No 1 priority. And then from there we spot the best we can. If we have two similar players, I'd take the English guy. It's less risky taking players from home. No homesickness. But we'll go out [for] the best players."
That determination has already provoked accusations of bullying and sharp practice. Chelsea have been involved in a bitter wrangle with Manchester United for the talents of 18-year-old John Obi Mikel, currently playing in Norway. More recently, Ajax Amsterdam have complained about approaches being made to two of their young players.
"I will say absolutely nothing to Ajax," Arnesen said. "We are working on watching players and that is all in our philosophy. You know that it is a big club and all players who kick a ball between now and the [transfer] window will be linked with Chelsea. What we are doing is internally; if we sign a player I will happily tell you why we are doing that."
He said that, although recruiting first-team players was not his area, he expected to discuss recruitment strategy with the manager, Jose Mourinho. "We are one club, so we are talking," Arnesen said. "We are both football people."
Arnesen, who will be looking at players from eight years old upwards, said he was aiming to provide one player a year for the first-team squad. "Sometimes it can be two players one year and none the next," he said. "But in two years' time, the first has to have come through. We are looking for what all clubs are. First you have the talent, the technical skill, also physically, then the tactical, which you already start to see at 15, 16 years old. But what is more important is the mentality."
One of the considerations that may lie behind the arrival of Arnesen, a move for which Tottenham initially claimed more than £10m in compensation before settling for a figure thought to be around half that, is the mooted Uefa policy of imposing player quotas. Should the recommendation be implemented, teams would need to have a minimum of four home nationals and four Academy-reared players in a typical squad of 24. Chelsea may meet those criteria now but they will need to maintain that balance in their squad.
Arnesen insists he has no regrets about the move from Tottenham, which saw words like "rat" and "traitor" fly about in some White Hart Lane circles. "To be honest, I tried to see through all that," he said. "The people I talk with at Tottenham, I still have good feelings towards them. I had a very few things about it from them when I explained my decision.
"Yes, there was disappointment and I'm happy about that, because if there hadn't been any disappointment, or they wanted me to leave, I hadn't done a good job. As long as it does not get really personal with some matters then I accept it, no problem."
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