Shevchenko deal exposes Chelsea's short-term aims

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The Independent Online

Andrei Shevchenko's arrival at Chelsea, and Jose Mourinho's determination to add Roberto Carlos to a list of summer signings that also features Michael Ballack and Salomon Kalou, may have Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal wondering if there is any point in contesting next season's title. The rest of the Premiership, which has long given up on such a quest, will have little sympathy.

A third Chelsea success is not, however, clear-cut. Mourinho can only field 11 players at a time, which means some big egos are going to be disappointed. There is also the potentially corrosive effect of Ballack and Shevchenko's wages, and the latter's friendship with Roman Abramovich, the club's owner.

It was with a nod to the latter issue that Mourinho insisted, after the £30.8m Shevchenko deal was completed late on Wednesday night, that the move represented "a dream become reality. Andrei has always been my first choice for Chelsea since I arrived."

It would be no surprise if that was so. Shevchenko has been one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe ever since he stunned Barcelona with a hat-trick for Dynamo Kiev at the Nou Camp in the 1997-98 Champions' League. Milan secured him and he rarely let them down.

If it is Mourinho's signing one thought does arise: the Portuguese appears to be going for broke. Shevchenko and Ballack will both be 30 in September, and Roberto Carlos is already 33. Compare this with Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson's ongoing investment in young players. This is not the approach of someone building a club, more one of someone delivering an instant team. The suspicion grows that Mourinho will remain at Chelsea only as long as it takes to win the Champions' League.

He would then be one of only three men to have won the competition at different clubs (Ernst Happel, with Feyenoord and Hamburg, and Ottmar Hitzfeld, with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are the others). The prospect of becoming the first coach to do so with three clubs could be irresistible, as could the challenge of being the manager who tames Real Madrid's executives and dressing-room.

Also of long-term interest is the club's financial management: given the wages, and lack of resale value, of Ballack, Shevchenko and Roberto Carlos, the oft-stated aim of Peter Kenyon, the chief executive, of the club becoming self-financing looks to be as far away as ever.

* Portuguese goalkeeper Hilario, 30, says he has completed his move to Chelsea after undergoing a medical. He will join on a two-year deal from Nacional.

Abramovich's top 10 buys

Andrei Shevchenko May 2006, from Milan. £30.8m

Michael Essien August '05, Lyon £25.98m

Didier Drogba July '04Marseilles £24m

Shaun Wright-Phillips July '05, Man City £21m

Ricardo Carvalho July '04,Porto £19.85m

Damien Duff July '03, Blackburn Rovers £17m

Hernan Crespo August '03, Internazionale £16.8m

Claude Makelele Sept '03, Real Madrid £16.7m

Adrian Mutu August '03, Parma £15.8m

Juan Veron Aug '03, Manchester United £15m

Total outlay under Abramovich: £268.45m

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