Damien Duff looks certain to end his three-year spell at Chelsea, Manager Jose Mourinho confirmed yesterday, as the wily Portuguese makes a push to tighten his core group of senior players. It was
also confirmed today that Asier Del-Horno has left for Valencia, possibly paving the way for England left-back Ashley Cole to move from Arsenal. The other player likely to make way before Chelsea's
season starts is unhappy Argentine striker Hernan Crespo. So why change? Mourinho was asked. "I had a situation last season where I lost a player I liked very much in Tiago, for example. Why? Because
he was afraid of not having enough chances to play. This season there is a chance we lose another, a player I like, in Damien Duff. Why? Because he is afraid of not having so many matches as he
wishes. So I think that is the reality." Mourinho confirmed that Duff pushed for the move. Newcastle and Tottenham are now fighting for his signature, which could cost as much as $20 million. Mourinho
hopes to have 16 senior outfield players out of a total of 20. "We will have top quality but short numbers, so everybody plays and everybody knows they will have a lot of chances to play," he said.
Four younger players will be added to the core 16. These consist of three African youngsters, Feyenoord signing Salomon Kalou, Manchester United signing John Obi Mikel, holding midfielder Lassana
Diarra, and an unnamed "kid from the academy." Chelsea is also likely to add both Cole and Real Madrid's Roberto Carlos before the start of the season, and Mourinho is adamant that Arjen Robben and
William Gallas will not be leaving.
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