Big-game hunter Arnesen on scent of the future Terrys
As part of that commitment, the club have linked with Sky TV to produce Football Icon (starting tonight on Sky One at 7pm), a kind of Pop Idol for footballers, with the prize of a professional contract with Chelsea for the winner.
What is intriguing about the club's mission statement is that, by 2014, Chelsea intend to become not just internationally recognised as the most successful club in the world but have established "a financial target of break-even" by 2009.
They can only achieve that by nurturing their own young players. Their captain, John Terry, is the man they parade as one who has progressed through the youth ranks. Yet the prospect of emulating him and contesting a place with expensively purchased, proven talent is a daunting one.
"As the level gets higher and higher, of course it will be difficult," agrees Arnesen, the former Ajax player who, before joining Tottenham, was technical director for a decade at PSV Eindhoven. "You have to be very good to come through. That's the challenge."
Arnesen has long been a big- game hunter. He took Ronaldo from Brazil to Eindhoven, and saw the potential in Ruud van Nistelrooy and Arjen Robben, among others. But, if he was 16 again (as he was when he signed for Ajax), would he come to Chelsea? "Of course. I think it would be fantastic," says the Dane. "In 1975, I got involved in negotiations with Ajax. They had won the European Cup in 1971, '72 and '73. There had been interest elsewhere, from Belgium, from Germany. But I trained hard, and after a year and a half I came into the first team."
I put it to him that the market in young talent could be unscrupulous, exploitative even, particularly when it came to enticing African players to Europe. "I see it in another way," he replied. "When I started at PSV, I would never take a player under 15 years old from abroad. But I went down to Africa one time, and I saw a player who was about 14 years old. He was living with a lot of brothers and sisters, and the mother was desperate to get him out. One less mouth to feed, you see, and maybe get a little money. That day, my philosophy changed. Sometimes there are possibilities where you really can help a family. I didn't sign him, but it made me feel a little bit different."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Manchester City: With Arsene Wenger missing a number of key players, who could start the Community Shield clash?
Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
Chelsea transfer news: Didier Drogba returns to Stamford Bridge on one-year deal
Manchester United: Five things we've learned so far about Louis van Gaal, including his ability to accommodate Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney
Liverpool transfer news: Reds 'in talks' to sign Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan as summer spending threatens to exceed £100m
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 4 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains