It did not take Adrian Mutu long yesterday to tap into the mood coursing through his new club Chelsea after his £15.8m move from Serie A. Asked what he would bring to the Premiership, the 24-year-old Romanian striker smiled and said simply: "Fantasy perhaps."
Fantasy football, indeed. It is something Chelsea and their supporters have been playing all summer since the astonishing takeover by Roman Abramovich. Who would he sign? Nesta? Vieri? Raul? As Claudio Ranieri, Chelsea's coach, pointed out by pointing to the sky, he has not been given a limit on his transfer budget. It appears that another recruit will be the Argentinian Hernan Crespo, with a fee above that of Mutu the man who, incidentally, replaced him at Parma. If the deal is agreed, the two will form Chelsea's striker partnership.
Mutu, who will play as a withdrawn "second" striker, may prove the better purchase over the course of his five-year deal. A clever attacker he is also fast - as he pointed out yesterday when asked how he would cope with the physical side of the Premiership. "I am rather quick," Mutu said, "and I hope to get away most of the time."
He certainly does not lack in confidence although he has also been accused of arrogance and has suffered from an unsettled private life. A divorce hearing is scheduled next month and charges were dropped recently after accusations that Mutu had struck his beauty queen wife.
He feels he will settle in London, however. "I'm a player who likes to win things," said Mutu, who was named the Best Overseas Player in Serie A last season after scoring 18 goals in 30 league games. "Coming here is a good opportunity for me to do that and the decision was a very quick one."
It was also an easy one. "I do believe this move to Chelsea is quite a stepping stone in my career progression." Mutu, speaking through an interpreter, added: "I'm also here to learn and improve my skills because I will play in very good company. My team-mates are exceptional. For a player who wants to make a name for himself in the international arena this is the right sort of club."
The name Abramovich has quickly permeated through Italy, the Romanian said. "He wants to get together a very competitive team and wants to make a name in England as well as the international arena for Chelsea. It is a very powerful, good team with a lot of championship material as well as some very well-known players."
He will make his debut today at home against Leicester City. The contrast between the clubs could not be greater and, although both have been busy in the transfer market, Chelsea's nine new signings have now cost £74.4m - while Leicester's 11 recruits cost nothing at all.
"It is still 11 players against 11 players," insisted Ranieri who said he would speak to Micky Adams afterwards. "Maybe I will remind him of last season," he said referring to his own lack of funds then. How times have changed.
Unsurprisingly Mutu sought advice from his compatriot Dan Petrescu, the former Chelsea full-back. "He told me only good things about Chelsea in general and he guaranteed to me that I had made the best choice of my career," Mutu said. Talk of Petrescu led on to the failure of other high-profile Romanians to make it in the Premiership - such as Florin Raducioiu and Ilie Dumitrescu.
How does Mutu know he will succeed where they failed? "Because I am Adrian Mutu and you will have a chance to see me play," he said, again displaying that famed confidence.
"In football the rules of the game are the same everywhere," he said. "I like the game but I am not afraid of the competition." It could be the competition, however, who are feeling increasingly uneasy.Reuse content