Chelsea step up bid to retain Terry

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The Independent Football

As Chelsea look to safeguard the future of captain John Terry, "buzzing" midfielder Michael Essien cannot wait to get back into action with the Blues.

The England captain, 28, is understood to have met with club officials, all keen to retain the services of the man dubbed "Mr Chelsea".

However, Manchester City are said to be ready to further test Terry's commitment with another £40million bid, which would include a head-turning £200,000-a-week package, plus more lavish bonuses, for the centre-back.

So far new Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has landed only Russian Yuri Zhirkov, in an £18m deal, as a high-profile signing - a move dwarfed by European rivals Real Madrid's summer spending spree and also comparatively little compared to the ambitious transfers pulled off by City in their bid to break into the top four.

Chelsea, though, are likely to look to further bolster the first-team squad, with Ancelotti ready to raid his old club for AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo, before the new campaign starts against Hull on August 15 - a week after facing Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley.

By then Chelsea, who head off on a four-game tour of the United States later this week, hope the speculation over Terry's future will be put to bed once and for all.

Midfielder Essien cannot wait for the action to start all over again, having missed a large chunk of the last season because of a serious knee injury.

"I have had a fantastic break and I am looking forward to the new season already," Essien said on his personal website, "I am still buzzing from the FA Cup win and Ghana's back-to-back wins in the World Cup qualifiers."

Essien added: "They were tough games [last season], but we came through very well and I am hoping to carry the same form into the new season starting in the US. I am also hoping for an injury-free season and so I can contribute fully to the team.

"At the end of the season I expect us to be up there with the best."

Chelsea were unfortunate to be knocked out of the Champions League last season to a late away goal by eventual winners Barcelona in the semi-finals, but recovered to send temporary boss Guus Hiddink off with the FA Cup.

In the Barclays Premier League, however, the Blues were seven points behind United in third place as they missed out on the domestic title for the third year running.

However, midfielder Michael Ballack believes Chelsea's lack of transfer activity this summer could give them a head start over United, who have lost both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

"It is our target every year to win the league and we are confident about winning the title," said Ballack.

"I think we had a good season last year, but United have played at a really high level the last few years. They made it really difficult for us to win the League in 2007 and 2008, but we were really close behind and last season we also finished behind Liverpool, who had a strong season.

"There are a few moments which decide every championship but we are confident it will be different next time. We have a very experienced squad.

"We haven't added a lot of new players, so we don't need much time to get into our rhythm."

Frank Arnesen, meanwhile, feels stepping into the role of sporting director at Stamford Bridge will be "nothing new".

The Dane has taken up his new role with immediate effect after working as chief scout and director of youth and development at the Barclays Premier League club.

Arnesen, who joined the football club board in May, moved to Chelsea from rivals Tottenham in 2005 and continued to work at the club under successive managers Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

He told the club's official website, "I have done it myself for 10 years with PSV Eindhoven and on the Continent it is more normal than not.

"In England we have not seen it, although I did do it at Spurs at one time, but actually there are not a lot of clubs who are doing this."

Arnesen, who will continue his role within the youth set-up added: "But if you see how big the clubs are nowadays, there are so many things that you have to arrange yourself, not only the managers but also the clubs, in marketing, in sponsorship, the stadiums, you have to get a lot of money in, you have to try to do the best you can do to get a club like Chelsea running.

"You need specialists around the place and I have done it more than 10 years so it is not new for me."