Jose Mourinho has wanted to sign a Brazilian right-back from Spain all summer. Last night he signed one. It was not, however, Daniel Alves who agreed a three-year deal, but Juliano Belletti, signalling a likely end to Chelsea's summer spending.
Chelsea switched their attention to Belletti, who has been eclipsed at Barcelona by last summer's arrival, Gianluca Zambrotta, after Seville insisted they wanted £27m for Alves. The decision adds weight to the claim made yesterday by Bruce Buck, the club chairman, that Chelsea will "not be held to ransom" on transfer fees. Buck added that selling Arjen Robben to Real Madrid was "a very good business result". "He wanted to leave," added Buck. "That's been clear almost from when last season ended. We wanted him to stay but with any sports team harmony is important. We want players who want to be here."
Robben's £23m fee, a £10m profit on the figure Chelsea paid PSV Eindhoven in 2004, might have been expected to finance an enlarged bid for Alves. Instead Chelsea turned to Belletti, who at 31 is seven years older than Alves and, while still adventurous, is a less dynamic player.
Belletti scored the winning goal for Barcelona against Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, which should immediately endear him to Chelsea fans. He has spent four years at Barcelona and won 20 international caps. His arrival is likely to mean the departure of either Paulo Ferreira or Glen Johnson, two right-backs signed for a cumulative £25m neither of whom are trusted by Mourinho. Alves may now join Real Madrid, whose transfer policy still appears to be based on the tenets of Viv Nicholson.
Ferreira's £19m transfer was an example of the "spend, spend, spend" days at Chelsea, a policy justified by Buck yesterday as "playing catch-up". He added: "In order to get short term results we had to bolster our squad quickly. We only bought the club on 1 July, the transfer season had already been going on for a month. So we had to act quickly. It's different now. We want to get value for transfer fees. If the transfer fee is higher than we think it should be then we will not go after that player. Over the last few years it's happened numerous times."
Buck, who was speaking at the relaunch of the club's Old Boys team, who play their West Ham equivalents at Tooting & Mitcham on Sunday, added: "In the transfer market there's one price for Chelsea Football Club and one price for everyone else. We have to fight against that. It's not easy but we're making headway."
The signing of Belletti, rather than Alves, will help that cause, but it may further disgruntle Mourinho. The manager may not be as pleased as the chairman at making "a pretty good profit" on transfers this summer.
The value-for-money approach also, said Buck, applied to player salaries. Nevertheless he remained confident Frank Lampard would follow John Terry and agree a new deal later this season.
Longer-term Buck insisted Roman Abramovich remained committed to the club. "Look at what we did at the training ground, you don't do that if you are a short-term investor. That's one big indicator. I don't think any of us look decades ahead but he's looking certainly 10 years ahead."
* The Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev have offered to take the Chelsea striker Andrei Shevchenko on loan for a year.
Good business: Chelsea transfers
In: Florent Malouda (Lyon, £13.5m), Juliano Belletti (Barcelona, undisclosed), Jacob Mellis (Sheffield United, £1.3m), Claudio Pizarro (Bayern Munich, free), Tal Ben Haim (Bolton Wanderers, free), Steve Sidwell (Reading, free), Danny Philliskirk (Oldham Athletic, undisclosed). TOTAL: £14.8M (Belletti undisclosed at time of print)
Out: Arjen Robben (Real Madrid, £23m), Khalid Boulahrouz (Seville, loan), Michael Mancienne (QPR, season long loan), Jimmy Smith (Norwich, season long loan), Geremi (Newcastle, free), Yves Makaba-Makalamby (Hibernian, free), Nuno Morais (Apoel Nicosia, undisclosed).
Total: £23m, Profit: £8.2mReuse content