Days after accusing other Premier League clubs of “buying the title”, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said Arsenal should be considered among the big spenders.
The Portuguese boss did not go into specifics when he defended the Blues’ recruiting policy last week, as the English champions bolstered their squad with the signings of Asmir Begovic and Radamel Falcao (on loan).
However, on Monday, Mourinho stoked the fire with London rivals Arsenal ahead of their Community Shield clash on Sunday – claiming Arsene Wenger had spent big without success, but declared they would be contending in 2015-16.
“If you add up the amounts clubs have spent in the last three or four years I think maybe you will find a surprise. If you put [Mesut] Ozil plus Alexis Sanchez, plus [Calum] Chambers, plus [Mathieu] Debuchy, you will find a surprise,” said Mourinho, who is preparing his side to face treble-winners Barcelona in Washington DC on Tuesday.
“It’s a fantastic squad with good players, fantastic goalkeeper, they are more than ready to be a title contenders. Get a calculator. That is the easiest thing, it leaves no space for speculation.
“If you want to be honest, objective and pragmatic it is the easiest job for a manager to do.”
Mourinho called on PFA Players’ Player of the Year Eden Hazard – who cost Chelsea £35m to buy from Lille in May 2012 – to get more protection this Premier League season.
Hazard himself spoke out about how often he was fouled – he earned 113 free-kicks in 2014-15 – recently, and Mourinho continued his campaign to protect the Belgian.
“Eden was very lucky not to break a leg last season,” he said.
“He’s getting stronger and stronger, not just in his body but in his attitude. He’s mentally tough. He’s not the kind of boy who overreacts. After a bad tackle he never rolls and rolls like other players do.
“But the reality is that last season he was lucky – let’s see what happens next season. He could have been injured many times. He suffered more than a couple of nasty tackles and could have been in trouble. I saw lots of players breaking legs and ankles with less than that.
“I would like more protection for him but it’s beyond my control. I don’t want to change his mentality or personality. I don’t want him to start crying or overreacting. I want Eden to be what he is – absolutely fantastic.”
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