Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea is in jeopardy after it emerged a conflict regarding two of the clubs leading talents is set to brew with technical director Michael Emenalo, according to SqueakyBumTime.com sources.
The self-titled Special One is yet to ratify his Stamford Bridge comeback as, six years after leaving by mutual consent, to replace interim boss Rafael Benitez after agreeing to leave current club Real Madrid and negotiations with owner Roman Abramovich are said to be at an advanced stage.
But the presence of Emenalo, brought to the club in 2007 by Mourinho’s replacement Avram Grant, could derail Abramovich’s plan to bring back the 50-year-old after straightening out their previously fractured relationship. Mourinho transformed Chelsea into Premier League title winners during three years in west London, also guiding them to success in the League Cup and FA Cup and the Russian wants him to replicate those results.
The issue with Emenalo, however, centres on goalkeeper Thibault Courtois and striker Romelu Lukaku, with both players due back from their respective season-long loan spells with Atletico Madrid and West Brom. The 47-year-old served as chief scout and assistant coach before landing his current role and his opinion is highly valued by Abramovich.
Courtois arrived at Chelsea from Belgian club Genk in July 2011 but has spent the last two seasons with Atletico and has nailed down the number one jersey at the Estadio Vincente Calderon following David de Gea’s departure to Manchester United. The 21-year-old has racked up 95 appearances in all competitions for the Spanish side, with his sparkling form aiding him in breaking into the Belgian national team.
Similarly, Lukaku has shone at the Hawthorns under former Blues coach Steve Clarke and topped the Baggies’ scoring charts last term with 17 goals to his name. The 20-year-old, bought from Anderlecht last summer, has reaped the rewards regular fist team football and has already expressed a desire to return to the Midlands if he is to be loaned out again.
Emenalo is keen for the duo to continue their development away from Chelsea as they are more likely to benefit from the experience of being a consistent starter for a top club, whereas Mourinho believes integrating them into his system is of greater importance.
The Portuguese feels Courtois can provide backup and eventually replace current number one Petr Cech and sees Lukaku as a worthy challenger to Fernando Torres and Demba Ba for a starting spot up front despite the club registering their interest in several leading European strikers.
Reports have indicated the disagreement with Emenalo could dissuade ex-Porto and Inter coach Mourinho from immediately putting pen-to-paper on a return to Chelsea unless he is offered full assurances from Abramovich that he will have the final say on every decision that concerns the playing staff.
One of those who won’t fall under the ex-Porto and Inter Milan coaches’ authority is Jeffrey Bruma. The 21-year-old Dutch centre back is poised to return to his home country with PSV Eindhoven after opting to turn down a permanent move to German side Hamburg where he has spend the last two seasons on loan.