7:18PM BST 23 Jul 2011
In the opulence of Ballroom One in Bangkok's showpiece Shangri-La hotel, Andre Villas-Boas yesterday set out a vision of his own football utopia: how Chelsea will overhaul Manchester United without spending big this summer and by 'paying respect to the valued squad that we have.'
The new Chelsea manager has, nevertheless, been busy and used the same occasion to confirm that a 5m euro fee had been agreed for the promising Barcelona B defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu — 'Oriol is a player with a bright future,' he said. He's also a player Villas-Boas identified and has brought to the club.
But like goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, who is to be loaned to Atletico Madrid, Oriol is just 19, while the targets that Chelsea are also closest to signing — striker Romelu Lukaku and another Belgian, the winger Kevin de Bruyne — are also young.
If Luka Modric is acquired, and if a bid is finally placed for Scott Parker, that will change, of course — with a number of senior players also set to leave - but Villas-Boas was adamant yesterday that the gap between Chelsea and United last season was not as great as it seemed.
Nevertheless United finished nine points ahead in May and have spent heavily — Ashley Young, David De Gea and Phil Jones — and remain in pursuit of Wesley Sneijder but Villas-Boas remained unfazed. 'You have to recall that Chelsea went to United with a great chance to shorten that distance that, in the end, became nine points,' Villas-Boas said.