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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most