John Terry said yesterday that Ronaldinho would be the perfect signing for Chelsea – just as long as he obeyed Jose Mourinho's orders and tracked back. The Brazilian's future is the transfer saga that refuses to go away with three days left until the transfer window closes on Friday.
The Chelsea captain is a close confidante of Roman Abramovich, but even he could not offer an insight into whether the 27-year-old is a serious prospect for his club or just using them to negotiate a better deal with Barcelona. Instead he said that the man twice voted Fifa world player of the year would be suited to Chelsea's new more attacking style – but that even Ronaldinho would be expected to do his share of defending too.
The tantalising prospect of Chelsea pulling off one of the greatest transfer coups of all time is balanced by the possibility that Ronaldinho's brother and agent Roberto de Assis Moreira is using the club's interest as a bargaining chip in contracts talks with Barcelona. Nevertheless, the reports of meetings between Moreira and Abramovich had reached the Chelsea players. "It was exciting. I've seen the coverage," Terry said. "To get a player of that ability would be a great acquisition. I've seen him, seen what he's all about and he's a very difficult player to mark.
"If he did come he would give us that option up front and it'd be great for the Premiership to get the likes of Ronaldinho. For me personally, Chelsea and everyone at the club it would be great."
There was still a surreal element to discussing with Terry how one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time would potentially fit into Mourinho's team – but this being Chelsea, even their club captain was not about to dismiss the possibility out of hand. Having witnessed the Mourinho-effect first hand, Terry said that even Ronaldinho, who has faced Chelsea in the Champions League each season for the last three years, would have to stick to the core principles of the team.
"We've got wide-men who go forward but they've got defensive responsibilities as well," Terry said speaking at the launch of a King of Shaves competition. "We've seen at times that Jose Mourinho has taken Shaun Wright-Phillips or Joe Cole off because they've not been doing their defensive duties. It takes players a month or so to learn that and if you don't do it then you come off.
"He [Ronaldinho] can give us something that not many in the world can give us. If he's doing it going forward then I'm sure the manager will let him off a little bit."
It has been a startling opening to the season for Chelsea, who lead the Premier League after four games and have a five-point lead on Manchester United. It is some lead for a club who expected to have to fight neck-and-neck with Sir Alex Ferguson's team for the Premier League title this season.
"Five points is a hell of a gap to have already," Terry said. "The pressure was on Manchester United on Sunday after we'd gone eight points clear of them. It's going to be difficult for them, but I suppose there are no easy games. It's perhaps surprised me how well we've done so far. I'm sure Manchester United will go on a run like they did last season and push us, Arsenal and Liverpool all the way.
"They were awesome last year, at the start of this season, maybe they're missing that spark especially with Rooney and Ronaldo out. They were two great players last year who are what United are all about. They're a great counter-attacking team, always dangerous, but they're missing those two. And there are other players just bedding in. It's good for us that they've not started that well."
The victory over Portsmouth last weekend, Terry said, demonstrated that Chelsea could still win games even when it looked like they were under pressure. He added that the change in style at Chelsea, to a more attacking 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation had already had an effect, Terry said. "Sometimes the manager just wants us to get that second goal to kill teams off," he said. "We can do that now."
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