Ranieri reveals vision of ideal Chelsea team

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The Independent Football

Here it is, in his own hand, Claudio Ranieri's wish list containing the fantasy team that Roman Abramovich's money can make possible.

The Chelsea manager sent his choice of the best foreigners ever to play professionally in this country to the Independent journalist Nick Harris for his book, England, Their England, a study of the impact of overseas footballers on the domestic game.

He posted it immediately after the end of the last football season, in which - without spending any significant money - he had steered Chelsea into the Champions' League. Two months later, Abramovich's takeover at Stamford Bridge has made his fantasy possible.

In Carlo Cudicini, Emmanuel Petit and Marcel Desailly, Ranieri already has three of his selections while two others, Ruud Gullit and Laurent Blanc, whose displays in this country were a shadow of those he delivered in Le Championnat or Serie A, have retired.

Arsenal, desperately short of money after plunging into the development of a new stadium at Ashburton Grove, have already been tested with enormous bids for Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry while Robert Pires' position at Highbury is not entirely secure.

Manchester United's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, has already issued a warning that Ruud van Nistelrooy, whom Ranieri would like to partner Henry in his ideal side, is not for sale at any price. But would an enormous bid for the services of Mikaël Silvestre really cause outrage at Old Trafford?

Although Jaap Stam has declared his wish to remain in Italy, Lazio, a club which has long been sunk deep in debt, could not reject any kind of serious bid for the Dutchman. It is now up to Abramovich, although given the rumours that surround his links to Stamford Bridge, it would have been very interesting to have seen Sven Goran Eriksson's list of favourite foreign players.

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