Villas-Boas open to January sales
Manager Andre Villas-Boas today refused to rule out further January sales at Chelsea amid reports linking a host of his stars with moves away.
And while manager Villas-Boas insisted Chelsea had "no interest" in selling anyone else next month, he admitted it was possible someone could leave. "If any club comes with an interesting offer, we'll have to consider it," he said. "But we are proposing is to take on the challenge of the six months ahead with these players."
Malouda this week publicly admitted he would be prepared to move on in search of regular first-team football, while fellow forward Kalou is seeking assurances of more game time before signing a new contract to replace the one that expires this summer. Both have been linked with Paris St. Germain, who today confirmed former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager.
Drogba, who is also a free agent at the end of the season, has already rejected a one-year extension to his Blues deal and he and Kalou are less than two days away from being able to pen a pre-contract agreement with a rival club.
Drogba, who was holding out for an additional two years, had declared he would not seek a January move. But his position has reportedly shifted, with the Ivorian having already been made one lucrative offer to move to China, where three clubs appear to be vying for his signature.
Asked if he was 100 per cent sure Drogba would be at Stamford Bridge when the transfer window closed, Villas-Boas said: "You never know in these cases, because it gets excited in the market, but I would say yes."
He added: "January arrives and the player is free to start speaking to other people. It's fair to say that he has this advantage on his hands, but his integrity and values will not be questioned if he is picked for the club."
Villas-Boas claimed none of his players had asked to be allowed to leave in January other than Anelka and Alex, who both had transfer requests accepted. That saw them banished from Villas-Boas' first-team squad, but asked if the same policy would apply to anyone who followed suit, Villas-Boas said: "We might not accept a transfer request. That's the big difference.
"It would be bad signs if people wanted to leave in this way," the boss went on. "To trade this club for a 'better' club is difficult. There are only five or six in the world with the same history, prestige, economic stability and facilities."
Chelsea have been linked with a host of players themselves but Villas-Boas reiterated he was looking to make only one signing beyond that of Gary Cahill, whose move from Bolton today hinged on the parties reaching an agreement over personal terms.
It appears Villas-Boas has been given the full backing of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich to continue his rebuilding project, even if he fails to win the Premier League title. He would be the first Chelsea manager to be given another season under those circumstances but he refused to dwell on whether that represented a change of policy at Stamford Bridge.
"That question cannot be addressed to me," Villas-Boas said. "It can only be addressed to the owner of the club, and you know that he is not available for interviews. I have nothing to say. We have signed on a three-year contract. Hopefully, that can represent trophies for the club, which is what is expected of me."
Having all but conceded the title after Monday's draw with Fulham, Villas-Boas today insisted it was still possible to cut the 11-point gap to Manchester City and Manchester United. Speaking ahead of tomorrow's visit of Aston Villa, he said: "We would have thought that Man City would win the game against West Brom and that Arsenal would do the job against Wolves.
"That would have changed the perspective of our position," he added. "There is still a gap that can be shortened. We need a run of solid wins."